Terps re­store or­der, just barely, in win over Tigers

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jonas Shaffer

COL­LEGE PARK — The record books will show that the Mary­land and Tow­son men’s basketball teams played Sun­day and not much changed. The Terps played the Tigers for the 13th time, beat them for the 13th time, the lo­cal peck­ing or­der re­in­forced once more.

But the Terps’ re­minder of how things have been and might al­ways be was of­fered through grit­ted teeth, with frayed nerves. A 71-66 win over the Tigers be­fore an an­nounced 16,797 at Xfin­ity Cen­ter in the open­ing round of the Bar­clays Clas­sic was by no means easy. It was hard-earned. It could have ended dif­fer­ently.

This was the first meet­ing in 20 years be­tween the schools, and it seemed to pack enough mo­men­tum swings, lead changes and edge-of-your-seat drama to fill a two-decade se­ries. It wasn’t un­til Mary­land guard Kevin Huerter’s two free throws with 5.3 sec­onds re­main­ing that the game was put away for good.

“We had noth­ing go­ing, and we were able to win that game,” Terps coach Mark Tur­geon said af­ter his team’s fourth win in as many games. “I wasn’t sure if we could do it.”

Tow­son guard De­shaun Mor­man’s er­rant 3-pointer from the wing with nine sec­onds re­main­ing could have tied the game at 69. In­stead, the Terps col­lected the re­bound and breathed a sigh of re­lief. It had been a long af­ter­noon. At one point, the Tigers (2-1) seemed as if they might pull away, not have to come back.

Led by guard Mike Morsell (team-high 17 points) and Mor­man (15 points), Tow­son was up 49-36 early in the sec­ond half af­ter a 9-0 run.

But the Terps scored 12 of the next 13 points, cut­ting the deficit to 50-48 af­ter a 3-pointer by for­ward Justin Jack­son (21 points) with11:02 left.

Again and again, Jack­son was the dif­fer­ence. Bar­clays Clas­sic

Among starters who took more than one shot Sun­day, the fresh­man was one of two who fin­ished above 50 per­cent from the field. He was 5-for-7 from be­yond the 3-point line and 8-for-13 over­all. But the most im­por­tant ball that left his hand might have been one he blocked.

With the game tied at 58, Jack­son blocked a shot in­side by guard Brian Starr, send­ing the ball fly­ing to Tow­son’s bench with a wave of his arm. Guard An­thony Cowan Jr. tracked down the miss, only barely, fling­ing it to Jack­son as he went out of bounds. Cowan got the re­turn pass and was off to the races. The only Terp who’d beaten him down­court was Melo Trim­ble, open in the right cor­ner.

“That was just a crazy se­quence,” said Trim­ble, who had a game-high 27 points, mak­ing 16 of 17 free throws and four of 15 field-goal at­tempts. “Shooter’s men­tal­ity: Keep shooting. I shot it and I made it.”

Said Tur­geon: “That block was big. I think it gave us a lit­tle con­fi­dence that we could fig­ure this thing out.”

They did, but not with the ease of pre­vi­ous meet­ings. Of Mary­land’s 12 wins in the se­ries en­ter­ing Sun­day, all but two were by dou­ble dig­its. It was clear through­out that there would be lit­tle dis­tance be­tween the teams sep­a­rated by less than 35 miles.

Some­times that mes­sage was em­phatic. Mor­man dunked on Terps cen­ter Da­monte Dodd to tie the game at 64 with less than three min­utes left, but Huerter’s one­legged, fade­away jumper gave Mary­land the lead again. Tow­son for­ward Ar­naud Wil­liam Adala Moto (11 points) evened the score at 66 with 86 sec­onds re­main­ing with two free throws be­fore Trim­ble pushed the Terps ahead at the foul line.

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