- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2020

COLLEGE PARK — With famous alumni like Scott Van Pelt courtside and the stands packed, it didn’t feel like the University of Maryland was on winter break Tuesday as the No. 12 Terrapins’ chalked up their most impressive win of the season.

Senior guard Anthony Cowan scored a game-high 20 points and Maryland used a thorough defensive effort to defeat No. 11 Ohio State 67-55.

Jalen Smith posted 11 points and seven rebounds and Darryl Morsell added 10 points as Maryland shot 45.7% from the floor.

Ohio State’s preseason All-Big Ten center Kaleb Wesson finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, but was held to just 5-for-13 shooting and picked up four fouls. His brother Andre Wesson scored 14 points.

Meanwhile, the Terrapins (13-2, 3-1 Big Ten) established themselves in the first half with 7 of 11 shooting from 3-point range, creating enough of a cushion that Ohio State (11-4, 1-3 Big Ten) couldn’t penetrate the rest of the night.

The Buckeyes only went 21 of 67 from the field (31.3%). Coach Mark Turgeon ticked off the individual defensive efforts of several of his players, from Cowan down through the bench.

Turgeon was asked if his players like to defend.

“I don’t know, but they like to win,” Turgeon said. “They love to win, so they know that’s what we have to do right now.”

For now, the win solidifies Maryland as a top-two team in the Big Ten along with Michigan State, though a lot can happen in the eight weeks of conference play that remain.

“Every win is big, especially in the Big Ten,” Cowan said. “There’s not going to be any easy nights … We just got to stay locked in, be ready to practice, just ready to keep getting better.”

Maryland got off to its usual slow start, falling behind 8-0. Kaleb Wesson scored a quick five, while the Terrapins didn’t make a shot from the field until their ninth possession. But as Maryland’s shots finally warmed up, Smith and his teammates found ways to contain Wesson.

Smith sometimes double-teamed Wesson with forwards Joshua Tomaic or Donta Scott. The lean 6-foot-10 forward nicknamed “Stix” blocked Wesson twice in the first half and later drew a charge. But Scott in particular drew praise from Turgeon and his teammates for his all-around solid game.

“He’s just an animal,” Smith said. “Donta is relentless. He does everything he needs to do and he’s always being competitive.”

Serrel Smith Jr. gave Maryland its first lead, 12-11, with a 3-pointer halfway through the first. His friends soon got in on the action. Jalen Smith, Cowan and Scott scored threes on three straight possessions to give Maryland a 28-22 halftime advantage.

Maryland maintained a modest lead for much of the second half. But with 8:55 remaining, Darryl Morsell stole a Buckeyes inbounds pass and heaved the ball upcourt for Aaron Wiggins to chase down and dunk, putting the Terrapins ahead 51-39.

The Wesson brothers made a few easy shots down the stretch, but Ohio State never threatened again. A Cowan-to-Smith alley-oop in the final 90 seconds provided Maryland an exclamation point.

Cowan also had six rebounds and scored 10 of his 20 points at the free throw line, a season high for him — and one of several ways Cowan has led a game in scoring this season.

“I just go off of feel,” Cowan said. “I saw I was able to get to the lane a little bit easier today, so that’s just what I did. I kept attacking.”

The Terrapins continue their conference schedule on the road, at Iowa Friday and Wisconsin next Tuesday.

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