Maryland’s second-half lead vanishes in 70-66 overtime loss at Nebraska

Three days after a dominant second-half effort resulted in a massive upset victory over No. 3 Purdue, Maryland basketball traveled to Nebraska looking to avoid a let-down. In what many labeled a trap game, Maryland saw its eight-point second-half lead disappear late, before eventually falling in overtime, 70-66.

Similar to Thursday’s statement win where Maryland found itself down eight points early in the second half, an ensuing scoring run propelled the comeback attempt.¬†Trailing 31-24 at the break, the Terps used a 17-2 burst to jump ahead in the second half.

Maryland held a 50-42 lead with just over seven minutes left in the game, but a late surge from Nebraska’s Derrick Walker and Keisei Tominaga allowed the Cornhuskers to chip away and eventually send the game to overtime.

In the extra frame, four straight points from Jahmir Young and a thunderous slam from Hakim Hart helped Maryland build a three-point lead, which was short-lived. Free throws from Walker and a layup from Sam Griesel gave the advantage back to the home team for good.

With the ball and down 65-64, Hart’s inbound pass was stolen and taken for a layup by Sam Hoiberg, pushing Nebraska’s lead to three. Maryland failed to score on the following possession and was forced to foul, ending any comeback ideas.

“We had too many turnovers at crucial times,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said. “I still don’t know what happened at the end of overtime, … again, the way we came out offensively on the road, it’s just killing us.”

The Terps continued their first-half shooting woes again on Sunday, making only two of their first 14 shots. Nebraska’s zone forced Maryland out of the paint and on the perimeter, an area where they have struggled mightily this season. Maryland shot 29% from the field in the opening half.

Donta Scott knocked down a three to get the scoring started for the Terps, but that jumper would be his only make of the half, as he missed his next seven from the field. He finished 2-16 from the field and 1-8 from three-point range.

Down 15-6, Maryland found its first offensive consistency of the evening during a 10-0 run that gave it a momentary lead. Hakim Hart connected on two three-pointers to start and finish the run, but the lead was short-lived, as a C.J. Wilcher basket gave the Cornhuskers a 17-16 advantage.

Tominaga and Walker led the way offensively for the Cornhuskers, combining for 21 of Nebraska’s 31 first-half points. Tominaga finished with 20 points, having now scored at least 20 in five consecutive games.

Walker proved his dominance on the interior, controlling the paint with 10 points and three rebounds in the first half. His relentless pressure forced two quick fouls on Maryland sophomore Julian Reese, forcing him to spend a good portion of the first half on the bench. Walker finished with a team-high 23 points.

“I thought Derrick Walker was phenomenal,” Willard said. “He made a couple of big plays when they needed some big plays, … we had our opportunities, … give [Nebraska] credit.”

While he was on the court, Reese had one of his biggest offensive outbursts of the season, scoring 16 points and grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds.

Willard has previously noted the improved performance of Reese in the second matchups against formidable opposing Big Ten centers. Reese and the Terps came out of the locker room and started the second half with a different energy.

“I thought our effort in the second half was much better, much more sustained,” Willard said. “We had some opportunities, … we’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities, we missed a lot of easy shots early with no shot-blockers inside, and we’ve just got to take advantage of that stuff.”

With the loss, Maryland falls to 1-7 in Big Ten road games. The Terps return home for their next two matchups against Minnesota and Northwestern, before hitting the road for their final two games of the regular season.

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