By: Andrew McCabe
After an overall successful first half, the Wildcats pounced on a couple of opportunities during the first few minutes of second half, gaining an 11-point lead. The ‘Cats, however, failed to maintain any offensive consistency as they lost their fourth straight game nearing the end of the regular season.
Defense wasn’t an issue. Coach Chris Collins put it bluntly: “We had a lot of careless turnovers,” he said. “Our inability to take care of the ball was the story of the game in the second half.”
Morale couldn’t have been much lower for the Wildcats after surrendering a 27-point lead against the No. 2 ranked Michigan State Spartans on Saturday heading into tonight’s matchup against the Maryland Terrapins. The Terrapins, who have struggled on the road all season, only winning one out of eight road games, jumped to a quick start against the ‘Cats, taking an early 15-9 lead after scoring 13 unanswered points. But the ‘Cats were quick to respond, evening up the game and taking a small lead heading into the first half.
The ‘Cats had seemed to erase Saturday’s memories from their minds, but the mental fatigue, something that Collins has been unable to help his players avoid, seemed to catch up to Northwestern. Turnovers were rampant in the second half, with the ‘Cats turning the ball over 10 times, many of them leading to easy buckets. The Wildcats saw the second half lead that they had earned vanish around the 10-minute mark of the second half. They never saw the lead again.
Collins noted Bryant McIntosh’s significant absence due to injury that left the ‘Cats without their regular ballhandler, taking responsibility for the inability of the team to adapt without him. The ‘Cats have had great success without McIntosh in the two first halves of the last couple games but have been unable to finish strongly without him.
Dererk Pardon, who had a quiet first half, scored 15 points with three offensive rebounds. On the recent difficulty the team has had, Pardon noted that “winning is the only thing that can motivate us right now.”
Sophomore Isiah Brown, who has played sparingly for most of the season, played an influential role in the offense, scoring 11 points, while first-year Anthony Gaines notched a career-high 5 assists in the first half alone. Gavin Skelly shot 1 for 9 from the field.
Kevin Huerter led the offense for the Terps, shooting 3 for 6 from beyond the arc and scoring 18 points with 4 assists, and Anthony Cowan and Dion Wiley scored 13 each. The Terrapins move to 19-11 on the season under Coach Mark Turgeon.
The ‘Cats move on to face Wisconsin this Thursday night at Allstate Arena, which will honor the seniors of the team. Collins hopes that McIntosh will be able to play but has his focus set on the Badgers. “We just have to move forward. We’ve gotta try to find a way [to win].”
After Wisconsin the ‘Cats will head to Iowa City to round out their regular season on Sunday. We’ll have broadcasts of both games on our mixlr page.