Cowan Jr. leads No. 5 Terps

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS FRIDAY - By Chris Hays

The open­ing game of the ESPN Or­lando In­vi­ta­tional on Thurs­day turned into a bat­tle of lit­tle big men.

This, of course, was noth­ing new to Mary­land’s An­thony Cowan Jr. and Tem­ple’s Alani Moore II. The two point guards are quite fa­mil­iar with each other.

“That was my team­mate from 10-and-un­der to like 15-and-un­der, and we were one of the best back­courts,” Cowan said of Moore, who played on the same AAU team as Moore when they were grow­ing up in the Wash­ing­ton D.C. area. “That’s been one of my good friends for a minute now and to just see how ev­ery­thing goes full cir­cle, we’re play­ing against each other in col­lege now, it was fun to see.

“I knew he was go­ing to try to go at me just like I was go­ing to go at him. It’s al­ways a com­pet­i­tive bat­tle be­tween us.”

Cowan won the bat­tle Thurs­day. The 6-foot scorer lit up Tem­ple and his good friend for 30 points at HP Field House, lead­ing No. 5 Mary­land to a 76-69 vic­tory. The win moved the Ter­rap­ins into one of Fri­day’s win­ners’ bracket semi­fi­nal game at 11:30 a.m. Mary­land will play Har­vard, which sur­prised Texas A&M 62-51 on Thurs­day.

First-year Tem­ple coach Aaron McKie wasn’t sur­prised by Cowan’s out­burst.

“He was the fo­cal point com­ing into the game and we wanted to try and pay as much at­ten­tion to him as pos­si­ble,” McKie said. “We ob­vi­ously didn’t do a great job with that be­cause he was the dif­fer­ence in the ball game.”

Moore wasn’t too bad, ei­ther. With Mary­land frus­trat­ing the Owls two lead­ing scor­ers — Nate Pier­reLouis and Quin­ton Rose — all game, the Owls needed some­one else to step up and Moore took over.

Tem­ple took it right at their Big Ten foe, hit­ting five of its first eight field goals, four of them 3-point­ers, as the Owls jumped out to a 16-7 lead and the Terps were on their heels.

“Give Tem­ple a lot of credit. They were shot out of a can­non to start this game. They made four 3s in the first five min­utes,” Mary­land coach Mark Tur­geon said. “We’re still get­ting used to teams com­ing at us be­cause of our rank­ing … so we’re learn­ing as we go.”

The Owls didn’t let up and Moore was a big part of that ef­fort. The 5-foot-10 floor general picked up the slack, scor­ing 22 points, while team­mate J.P. Moor­man added 14 points.

“I’m not pleased, by no means, with the out­come of the game, but I told those guys that two of our best play­ers didn’t have their best games and we were right there with a chance to win this game,” McKie said. “It got away from us prob­a­bly with a minute-and-ahalf left in the game, but we were there through­out.”

But in the end, it was too much Cowan, and even when Cowan wasn’t scor­ing, he was tak­ing up enough at­ten­tion to leave oth­ers open.

Tem­ple tied the game 62-62 after Rose broke an 0-12 slump after scor­ing five of Tem­ple’s first eight points.

Cowan broke the tie with his fourth 3-pointer and a wide-open Eric Ayala drilled an­other as Mary­land ended the game with a 14-5 run to se­cure the vic­tory.

PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP

Mary­land guard An­thony Cowan Jr. (1) pushes the ball up the court against Tem­ple Thurs­day.

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