Cowan Jr. leads No. 5 Terps
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.
Maryland guard Anthony Cowan Jr. (1) pushes the ball up the court against Temple Thursday.