Illini cough up big lead to Terps

Illi­nois falls apart late, scores 1 point in fi­nal 4:33

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

COL­LEGE PARK, Md. — Illi­nois looked poised for a huge road win but squan­dered its big chance down the stretch in a 59-58 loss at No. 3 Mary­land in both teams’ Big Ten opener Satur­day.

The Illini led 39-25 at half­time and pushed their lead to 15 in the sec­ond half. But they were outscored 11-1 in the game’s fi­nal 4 min­utes, 33 sec­onds.

Illi­nois still led by three points with a minute left. The Ter­rap­ins’ Aaron Wig­gins missed a 3-pointer with 33 sec­onds left, but Dar­ryl Morsell grabbed the of­fen­sive re­bound and Mary­land called time­out. An­thony Cowan Jr. tied the score with a 30-footer with 19 sec­onds to play.

The Illini had a chance to hold for the fi­nal shot, but Cowan stripped the ball from An­dres Feliz in the fi­nal sec­onds, and he was fouled in the scrum for the ball by Feliz with 2 sec­onds left. Cowan made the first free throw and missed the sec­ond in­ten­tion­ally for the win.

“That one was one hard,” Illi­nois coach Brad Un­der­wood said. “I’m not go­ing to lie.”

The Ter­rap­ins (10-0, 1-0) didn’t lead af­ter half­time un­til Cowan’s free throw but matched their best start since win­ning 10 straight to open the 1998-99 sea­son.

The loss for Illi­nois (6-3, 0-1) was a re­verse im­age of its dis­ap­point­ing de­feat to Mi­ami in the Big Ten-ACC Chal­lenge on

Mon­day in Cham­paign. In that game, the Illini fell be­hind by 25 points only to have a chance to win on their fi­nal pos­ses­sion. They didn’t get off a shot in that sit­u­a­tion ei­ther, as Ayo Do­sunmu was called for a charge down by one in the fi­nal sec­onds of an 81-79 loss.

Trent Fra­zier scored 13 points for Illi­nois, which nearly claimed its first road vic­tory over a top-five team since 1989. The Illini have lost 15 con­sec­u­tive road games against ranked teams and six straight con­fer­ence open­ers. Feliz added 11 points against the Ter­rap­ins. Kofi Cock­burn had nine points and eight re­bounds, and Ge­orgi Bezhan­ishvili scored six points.

Both big men were sad­dled with foul trou­ble in the sec­ond half as Mary­land came up with some key of­fen­sive re­bounds that aided its come­back.Cowan had 20 points, seven re­bounds and six as­sists, and Jalen Smith (14 points, 13 re­bounds) recorded his sixth dou­ble­dou­ble of the sea­son for Mary­land.

“We have to be bet­ter,” Cowan said. “We ob­vi­ously didn’t play our best game. We’re here to win a cham­pi­onship. This is a good win. Not to take any­thing away from Illi­nois, they played a great game.“

Donta Scott’s bas­ket with 1:45 re­main­ing got Mary­land within 57-55, and Fra­zier split two free throws 2 sec­onds later to put Illi­nois up by three be­fore Cowan’s big shot.

“Right when he shot it, it looked per­fect,” Mary­land coach Mark Tur­geon said. “I knew it was in, and that’s just kind of what he does.


Ayo Do­sunmu re­acts af­ter he was called for trav­el­ing against Mary­land on Satur­day.

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