Either Maryland or Northwestern will snap a three-game losing streak when the teams meet Wednesday night in Evanston, Ill.
Both programs are struggling in Big Ten Conference action — a combined 1-7 — and starving for a win that could set them on a better path.
“I feel like we’re close to turning the corner,” Terrapins interim coach Danny Manning said after Maryland (8-7, 0-4 Big Ten) saw its comeback attempt fall short in a 70-69 home loss to then-No. 23 Wisconsin on Sunday.
The Badgers led by 21 points early in the game, but Eric Ayala and the Terrapins did not pack it in. Two straight 3-pointers by Eric Ayala put Maryland ahead 36-35 with 15:27 to play. In the final seconds, he hit another trey that put a scare into the Badgers and cut their lead to one.
Ayala led five Maryland scorers in double figures with 19 points, adding five rebounds. But when it was said and done, the Terrapins remained one of two Big Ten teams without a conference win.
“You spend so much energy when you’re down to get back into the ballgame,” Manning said. “We got into the bonus first in the second half, and I’d like for us to continue to put pressure on them by getting to the free-throw line. They shot more free throws than us, and we’d like to shoot more free throws than our opponents, especially when we get into the bonus early or before the other team.”
Northwestern (8-5, 1-3) earned its only Big Ten win thus far by beating host Maryland 67-61 on Dec. 5. However, the Wildcats opened 2022 with single-digit conference losses to Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State. Two of those foes were ranked.
In a 95-87 loss to the then-13th-ranked Buckeyes on Sunday, Northwestern shot the ball well — 47.1 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from deep. Ty Berry led the way with 23 points, and Pete Nance and Chase Audige each scored 20. However, Ohio State star E.J. Liddell netted 17 points in the first five minutes and wound up with 34.
“The first five minutes of the game really told a story,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “I was very displeased with our defense early in the game.”
Nance leads Northwestern at 16.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Ayala is tops for Maryland with 15.5 points per game, while Donta Scott is hauling in 7.0 rebounds per game to go with an 11.6 scoring average.
–Field Level Media