COLLEGE PARK – The University of Maryland men’s basketball team trailed for 38 minutes of their Big Ten Conference opener against the University of Illinois on Dec. 7. However, a comeback effort led by point guard Anthony Cowan Jr., capped off with a 3-pointer, brought the Terrapins back to tie the game with less than 17 seconds remaining.
The Bowie native was not finished. Cowan collected a steal in the closing seconds by guard Andres Feliz and was fouled on the same play. He connected with the game-winning free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining, to finish with a game-high 20 points, leading Maryland to a 59-58 comeback victory.
Chants of “M-V-P” filled the Xfinity Center court after the game towards Cowan as he attempted to address the crowd. The point guard led the Terrapins back from a huge 14-point deficit at halftime.
Maryland did not start well offensively, shooting 5 for 20 in the opening 10 minutes and only scoring 3 of 14 from the 3-point line before halftime. Head Coach Mark Turgeon blamed the first half start to fatigue as the Terps played their fifth game in nine days.
Cowan started the comeback by scoring Maryland’s first nine points after halftime. Meanwhile, Baltimore native Darryl Morsell added the majority of his 10 points in the second half. With five minutes remaining, Maryland went off in a 7-2 scoring run to reduce their deficit to five points.
As the Fighting Illini looked to be pulling away, forward Jalen Smith fired back five points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key, to restart another 7-0 scoring run with less than two minutes left to bring the Terps within three points. The run would set up the closing moments of the game, with Cowan’s tying and game-winning shots.
The 14-point deficit became the largest lead Maryland erased since coming back down 15 points at halftime in an 80-78 defeat of Bucknell in 2017. Maryland will play its next two games on the road before returning home to take on Bryant University on Dec. 29.