Maryland beats Penn State 75-69 for 7th straight win
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A big lineup and a huge advantage at the free throw line provided Maryland the leverage it needed to secure a gritty victory.
Freshman Bruno Fernando had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 18 and Maryland rallied past Penn State 75-69 on Tuesday night to extend its 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 “re-invent” 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 was called for only 12 fouls compared to 24 for Penn State (11-5, 1-2). The Terps went 23 for 34 at the line, and the Nittany Lions finished 2 for 4.
And that explains why Maryland won despite making five fewer baskets.
“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.”
Said Turgeon: “Did we get a good whistle? Probably.”
Mike Watkins had 17 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for Penn State. Tony Carr finished with 16 points and eight assists, but he missed 17 of 23 shots.
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.”
Fernando played a career-high 32 minutes for his first career double-double. Cowan played all 40 minutes and led the team with four assists.
“Coach always says we don’t have any time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Cowan said. “We just have to figure out ways to win, like we did tonight.”
Morsell missed his first eight shots and finished with nine points on 2 for 10 shooting.
Maryland will put its winning streak on the line Thursday night against top-ranked Michigan State, the Terrapins’ first road game since a Dec. 3 overtime win at Illinois.
Penn State: An excellent effort on the road in a conference game should help the Nittany Lions get over a home loss to Rider on Dec. 22 and let them know they can compete on the road in the conference.
“We did some really good things,” Chambers said. “The two statistics we didn’t win were free throws and the score. Our kids came in here and competed. They played fearless.”
Maryland: The Terrapins are going to have plenty more close games in the Big Ten, and this can only help them prepare for that. Their three conference games thus far have been decided by a total of 12 points.
Penn State: Hosts Northwestern on Friday night. In only meeting last year, Wildcats won by 10.
Maryland: Terps face a Michigan State team that this week climbed to top spot in AP Top 25 for the first time since 2015-16.
For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25