After Wisconsin won three of its final four regular season games, with the only loss coming to #2 Michigan State, the Badgers looked to continue their improved play in the Big Apple. That they did, as Wisconsin knocked off Maryland in a nail-biter, 59-54.
Brevin Pritzl got the scoring going for Wisconsin, hitting the team’s first three, which would be their only one of the first half. Maryland answered right back early, with Bruno Fernando, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter all scoring, as the Badgers led 8-7 at the first break.
The first half would remain tightly contested, but the flow seemed to disappear after the first few minutes. Point guards Brad Davison and Anthony Cowan each picked up quick fouls, and Ethan Happ essentially played point guard for the Badgers with Davison on the bench.
With Davison out due to foul trouble, Wisconsin really struggled on the offensive end, going over four minutes without scoring, and an unbelievable nine minutes without making a field goal. Yet, the Badgers’ defense made things difficult for the Terps, holding them to just one three-point field goal in the half, and holding on to a 28-26 half at the break.
Anthony Cowan scored the last eight points for Maryland in the first half to lead all scorers with 12 at the break, while Happ led the Badgers with eight in the first to go along with four boards.
Wisconsin started the second half hot, with a quick 5-0 burst to extend the lead to 33-26, forcing Maryland to call a timeout. The backcourt-led Terps fought right back, capped off by a transition dunk by Bruno Fernando that brought the crowd to its feet, bringing Maryland back to within two.
While Ethan Happ got a quick breather on the bench, Charles Thomas came in and provided some really solid minutes off the bench, especially on the defensive end. On offense, the Badgers would play the last nine-plus minutes in the bonus.
As well as Wisconsin’s defense played, their offense struggled. The team went through another long field goal drought of over four minutes in the second half, allowing Maryland to crawl back from a seven-point deficit to tie the game at 47.
After the game was tied up, the battle was basically between Kevin Huerter on one end, and the Badgers on the other. Wisconsin made two free throws, and Huerter answered. Davison hit a tough shot, and Huerter answered with a tough runner in the lane.
With the game all tied at 53, Brevin Pritzl pulled up from mid-range and hit a tough jumper to give them the lead. Huerter would then make one of two free throws, and Davison would get fouled and make both to give the Badgers a 57-54 lead.
Maryland tried to throw the ball in to Huerter with under eight seconds left, and Khalil Iverson, tired and bloodied, stole the ball, essentially icing the game for the Badgers.
This was truly an all-around team performance, with four starters scoring in double figures, and the Badgers holding the Terps to a season low in points. Happ led the balanced attack with 14 points and seven rebounds, as Wisconsin will now get another chance at Michigan State Friday at 11:00 central time.