COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- 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.
REGIONAL POWER RANKINGS: DESPITE INJURIES, NO CHANGE FOR TERPS
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
The Terps were the only team in the Big Ten without a performance center dedicated specifically for basketball. That's about to change.
Maryland Athletics announced Tuesday a fundraising campaign to build a new Basketball Performance Center. The facility, totaling 60,000 square feet, would be home to both the men's and women's basketball teams.
The athletic department has already raised $19 million of the estimated $36 million needed to complete the project. With Tuesday's launch of the public phase of the fundraising campaign, the remaining $17 million will be funded through donations and athletic department revenues.
"It is our vision that with a new Basketball Performance Center, the university will continue its ascent in the Big Ten Conference and provide our teams with the infrastructure they need to continue striving for championships,” Athletics Director Damon Evans said at the event. “This new center will help provide a transformative experience for our student-athletes, giving them an unmatched opportunity to become top collegiate basketball players."
Maryland is one of only four schools to have won a championship in both men's and women's basketball, the men in 2002 under Gary Williams, and the women in 2006 under Brenda Frese, who's entering her 18th season with the Terps. She was named head coach of the women's team the day after the men won the National Championship in 2002. Both she and men's head coach Mark Turgeon spoke Tuesday.
“This training facility will keep both our basketball programs ahead of the curve and at the top of their games,” Frese said. “We always strive to be the best and this facility will represent that. In my 17 years at Maryland, the support we've received is incredible and I know our fans will love seeing our programs work out of the best facility in the country.”
The women's team is ranked No. 5 heading into the season, is returning all five starters and is adding the No. 3 recruiting class in the country as they try to defend their Big Ten regular-season title.
"The addition of a performance center will have an immeasurable impact on our basketball program as we strive to provide a first-class experience for our student-athletes,” Turgeon said. “The facility will upgrade nearly every facet of our program, further elevating our status in the national basketball landscape."
The men's team is a consensus top-10 team and returns every contributor from last year's team other than Bruno Fernando. The Terps will be led by senior point guard Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith, who was a Big Ten All-Freshman honoree last season.
Maryland basketball's season ended in disappointing fashion last season as Tremont Waters sank the Terps with a last-second layup in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Even still, NBC Sports College Basketball Talk's Preseason Top 25 has Maryland as the No. 9 team entering the season.
Sights immediately turned toward this coming season. Four freshmen enter the mix in Donta Scott, Chol Marial and Makhi and Makhel Mitchell. The first is a fill-it-up wing scorer from Philadelphia, the last two, twin 6-foot-9 big men from Washington, D.C. who wanted to stay home. Marial is a 7-foot, one-time top player in the nation who's been hampered by lower-body injuries. He'll miss time to start the season.
It won't be easy, but Marial and the twins will be tasked with replacing some of what the Terps are losing from now-Atlanta Hawk Bruno Fernando. Last year, Fernando averaged 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. His production will be missed, but he's the Terps' only significant departure.
Here's a full breakdown of the Terps' roster:
- WHO’S GONE: Bruno Fernando
- WHO’S BACK: Anthony Cowan, Jalen Smith, Serrel Smith Jr., Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Darryl Morsell
- WHO’S COMING IN: Chol Marial, Makhi Mitchell, Makhel Mitchell, Donta Scott
- PROJECTED STARTERS: Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Jalen Smith
The length of that 'who's back' line is almost as important as who's on it. Seven key contributors return, including senior point guard Anthony Cowan and sophomore big man Jalen Smith. The team will likely go as far as the two of them can carry it. Aaron Wiggins could be the x-factor that takes this team from a competitive, top-25 team to a dangerous, top-10 team. He's got all the talent and mentality to become a top-scorer on a great team. It's not always that simple, though.
There is nothing riskier than going all-in on a team coached by Mark Turgeon, but here we are. - Rob Dauster
This could be a make or break year for Mark Turgeon. He has one of the most talented rosters in the country. The last time the Terps entered the season with a Top 10 team, they never lived up to the hype. Another lackluster performance this season could heat up the hot seat for Turgeon.
But the big story is the 1-2 punch of Cowan and Smith and the depth that surrounds them. If they can put it all together, the Terps could make some noise in College Park this season.