Playing the same team on back-to-back days would make for a strange experience for any college basketball team. Having the double-header cap a run of seven games played over just 12 days following a 27-day layoff, and you might see a team worn down, unable to keep pace in the critical moments when the game is decided. The Nebraska Cornhuskers, just as they did Tuesday, succumbed to a fresher Maryland Terrapins squad on Wednesday, this time 79-71.
Leading the way for Nebraska (5-14 overall, 1-11 B1G) was Teddy Allen, scoring a game-high 25 points, including 15 in the second half. But Maryland (13-10, 7-9) countered with Erick Ayala dropping a career-high 24 points, and Aaron Wiggins matching his career-high of 22 points. Both had double figures by halftime and identical 4-9 shooting nights from beyond the arc.
The Huskers started strong thanks to eight quick points from junior Lat Mayen, who has averaged 11.4 points per game over his past eight games after just 6.6 over his first 11 games. Mayen’s three free throws gave NU a four-point lead at 13-9. The Terrapins, who now carry a three-game winning streak, struck back with an 8-0 run mid-first half, turning an 18-15 NU lead into a 23-18 advantage at the ten-minute mark.
Once Maryland grabbed that lead, Nebraska never got it back.
Allen scored seven straight Husker points, but each time he pulled NU within a possession, Ayala or Wiggins answered. The two teammates poured in the last 17 Maryland points of the first half, while their defense kept Nebraska off the scoreboard for the last 2:18 of the half. That resulted in a 40-33 Terp lead at the break.
Sophomore Dalano Banton, who matched a career-high with three treys, knocked down his first two out of the locker room, cutting the lead down to 42-39 less than two minutes into the second half. But Ayala and Wiggins keyed a 12-0 Maryland run over almost four minutes that effectively put the game out of reach. The pair scored eight straight over that stretch, making it 55-39.
Mounting one final push to close the gap, the Huskers responded to a Jarius Hamilton three with a quick 6-0 burst, whittling down a 17-point deficit to just 11 at 60-49. Junior Shamiel Stevenson lit the fuse with a thunderous dunk. Senior Kobe Webster’s three-point attempt would have drawn NU back within single digits, but it rimmed out, Hamilton made his on the other end, and Maryland would not relinquish their double-digit lead until garbage time.
Despite the loss, Nebraska enjoyed their best three-point shooting game of the year, hitting 13-28 for 46.4%. In fact, they buried at least six triples in each half, a feat they had accomplished in just four games prior: wins over McNeese State and Doane, a loss to Creighton, and Tuesday night’s loss to Maryland. The Huskers have also made fewer than six threes in four entire games this season, all conference losses.
Derrick Walker, the junior forward who missed Tuesday’s second half with an illness, managed just 17 minutes and was held without a rebound. Walker nabbed eight boards against 6th-ranked Illinois last Friday. Banton finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Stevenson and Webster added nine and eight points off the bench, respectively. Trey McGowens, who started the game and played 27 minutes, did not score, missing all five of his shots from the field.
Nebraska only committed 11 turnovers, their fewest since returning to action after their Covid pause. That effort was nullified by the Terps shooting 47.5% and making 13 three-pointers, the most given up by NU since Creighton hit 14 back in December.
This will now be Nebrasketball’s longest break between games since their program shutdown. Next up will be a home game against Purdue on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 4:30 p.m.