On back-to-back possessions with time winding down and Maryland desperately needing points, the Terps put the ball in DeShawn Harris-Smith’s hands. Both times, he drove to the basket and got a pair of tough layups to fall.

The freshman sparked a 8-0 run that brought Maryland within three points, but the Terps couldn’t overcome a late double-digit deficit in the loss.

Still, Harris-Smith had the second best scoring output of his career Wednesday with 14 points against Northwestern two weeks after dropping a career-high 17 in a win over Iowa.

Harris-Smith is averaging 10.8 points per game in the Terps’ last five contests, going back to his career performance against the Hawkeyes. It’s been the most offensively successful stretch of his young collegiate career for Maryland men’s basketball.

The uptick in production came after Harris-Smith couldn’t reach double figures in his previous eight contests and averaged just 3.7 points per game in that span.

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The Woodbridge, Virginia, native has looked much more comfortable driving to the rim as of late and is shooting 61.3 percent from two-point range over the last five games. He’s gotten to the free-throw line in each of those contests after failing to in the four games before then.

“I just try to use my physicality, get to the rim and finish through contact,” Harris-Smith said. “They trust me to put the ball in my hands, so I mean I gotta do something positive with it, and I feel like getting downhill with my left hand or my right hand is just the best thing I can do.”

Harris-Smith’s best offensive outing of the year came against the Hawkeyes, when he thrived near the basket and went 7-for-10 from the field. He added six rebounds and three assists to his 17-point performance in the comeback win.

“I feel like today I was taking care of the ball, handling the double teams well and just facilitating like I should,” Harris-Smith said after the win over Iowa on Feb. 14. “I was able to just keep my confidence.”

The 6-foot-5 guard has also adapted well on the defensive side of the ball, as his defense has been impressive for a majority of the season in one of the country’s top units. He guarded Northwestern’s star guard Boo Buie for a majority of Wednesday’s matchup and held him to just 12 points.

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“I just take a lot of pride trying to hang my hat on defense, especially with me not shooting the ball well, I gotta be there to do other things that can help us win,” Harris-Smith said after the Northwestern loss. “I’m going to try and guard the best player to keep him under his average and I’m gonna go out there and do whatever it takes.”

Harris-Smith has done well with the ball in his hands and his offensive development is encouraging. But his fit with incoming five-star recruit Derik Queen and Julian Reese, should he stay with the Terps, is a potential concern if his three-point shooting doesn’t improve.

Harris-Smith is just 13-for-77 from deep this year, and three players who don’t shoot or have struggled to shoot threes sharing the court as potential starters could continue the Terps’ poor three-point shooting form. Maryland’s three-point shooting ranks 354th out of 362 Division I teams this season at 28.2 percent.

Still, Willard has been pleased with the development throughout his freshman year and has seen his confidence grow on both sides of the ball. Harris-Smith has started 27 of 29 games and played 29.7 minutes a contest this year, potentially providing valuable experience for the Terps down the line.

“Him just getting downhill, him doing what he does well, and the game slowing down for him — he’s figuring it out so he’s gonna keep elevating,” Jahmir Young said.