Free-throw disparity contributes to Penn State's loss to Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Mike Watkins had 17 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, but a huge disparity at the foul line contributed to Penn State's 75-69 loss to Maryland on Tuesday.
Maryland was called for only 12 fouls compared to 24 for Penn State (11-5, 1-2 Big Ten). The Terps went 23 for 34 at the line, and the Nittany Lions finished 2 for 4.
“You've got a home-court advantage here,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “I don't know if that influenced (them) at all, but 34 free throws versus four is tough to swallow because we played some really good basketball.”
Tony Carr finished with 16 points and eight assists for the Nittany Lions, but he missed 17 of 23 shots.
Freshman Bruno Fernando had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Maryland, and Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 18 to help the Terrapins extend their winning streak to seven.
Kevin Huerter scored all 13 of his points in the final 12 minutes to fuel the comeback, and Michal Cekovsky contributed 10 points and six rebounds for the Terrapins (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten).
With Ivan Bender (knee) and Justin Jackson (shoulder) lost for the season, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon felt compelled to “reinvent” the makeup of the squad by pairing the 7-foot-1 Cekovsky and 6-10 Fernando in the starting lineup.
“Everybody knows we got unlucky with injuries. But we adjust,” Cekovsky said. “We've got great length. We're still deep, even with those injuries. We had a really good game so it feels good.”
Maryland won despite making five fewer baskets.
Said Turgeon: “Did we get a good whistle? Probably.”
Maryland trailed 61-56 with just over six minutes left before scoring nine straight points to take the lead for the first time since early in the second half.
Huerter made two foul shots, Darryl Morsell connected from beyond the arc, Cekovsky dunked off an offensive rebound and Morsell capped the surge with a driving layup.
A 3-pointer by Josh Reaves made it 71-69 with 22 seconds left, but Cowan followed with two free throws to clinch it.
“We kept battling and battling and figured out a way to win it,” Turgeon said. “So yeah, they're much more confident now than they were 24 hours ago.”