Wisconsin starts fast, holds off No. 2 Maryland
By David Driver
The Sports Xchange
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes complained on Thursday about the basketballs used at home games by the University of Maryland, which is affiliated with Under Armour.
Hayes and the Badgers certainly weren't complaining about the outcome Saturday, as Wisconsin took a 16-point lead late in the first half and held off a late run by No. 2 Maryland for a 70-57 win in Big Ten Conference play.
The Badgers scored 17 straight points at one point in the first half after Maryland had built a seven-point lead.
"We had to hit them in the mouth and take it to them," said Hayes, who was able to silent Maryland fans who badgered him during the game. "We were able to get some second opportunities. Fortunately we were hitting our shots. We weathered their storm. Guys hit some big shots, guys made some plays. Overall we did a good job, not perfect."
Hayes had 10 of his 14 points in the first half and was 4 of 5 from three-point range, while he missed all seven shots from two-point range. So how did the basketballs feel Saturday?
"The basketballs are perfectly fine. I love them." Hayes said curtly, standing outside his team's locker room.
Hayes had plenty of help.
Forward Vitto Brown had 21 points, guard Bronson Koenig had 16 points and five assists, guard Zak Showalter had 11 points and forward Ethan Hagg had a team-high 10 rebounds.
"It is a huge step forward for our team," Badgers interim coach Greg Gard said. "Our game doesn't vary too much. We worry about ourselves and how we play. I am extremely proud of our guys. I am really proud of how they have responded after veteran coach Bo Ryan retired early in the season.
The Badgers outrebounded Maryland 40-30 and had 13 offensive rebounds with 20 second chance points compared to just four for the Terps. Maryland shot just 54 from the line (12 of 22) and shot just 33 percent from the field in the first half.
"They executed offensively. They used 30 seconds (per possession) every time," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of the Badgers. "Vitto Brown was terrific. He made some big threes for them."
The Terps led for just 4:57 out of 40 minutes. Maryland (22-4, 10-3 Big Ten) had a 27-game home winning streak stopped.
"The second half I knew they would make a run. We were going to have to withstand the run," Gard said. "We had such a long way to go to not push the panic button with 16, 17 minutes to go. We got them to take tough shots in the first half run."
Maryland also had four players in double figures: guard Rasheed Sulaimon (17), forward Jake Layman (10), center Diamond Stone (10), who is from Wisconsin, and guard Melo Trimble (10), who missed 13 of 14 shots from the field but was 8 of 10 from the line.
"It was just one of those nights. Wisconsin was terrific," Turgeon said. "The second half we were at the park playing (undisciplined) basketball."
Wisconsin (16-9, 8-4) led 36-21 at halftime, but Maryland trimmed the margin to 45-39 midway through the second half on a dunk by Stone. Koenig responded with a 3-pointer and Brown scored near the basket to give the Badgers a 53-41 lead with7:40 left.
Showalter made another 3-pointer with 4:35 left to build the margin back to 56-45 after Maryland had closed to 53-45 on a basket by Stone. Showalter made a spinning layup with 2:43 left to give the Badgers a 61-48 lead.
Brown boosted the lead to 63-48 by making two free throws with 2:13 to go and the Badgers hit their free throws down the stretch to prevail.
Stone and Badgers forward Charlie Thomas tangled under the Maryland basket while going for a rebound with 1.8 seconds left in the first half and had to be separated by the officials.
Replays showed Stone pushed Thomas' head to the ground as he was on the floor and both players were given technical fouls.
"I did not see it but I heard about it. It was a pretty physical game at the time. I will talk to Diamond about it," Turgeon said.
NOTES: Maryland honored members of the 1966 Texas Western team with a reception before Saturday's game. The majority African-American team beat Kentucky for the national title on the Maryland campus on March 19, 1966, at Cole Field House, which is no longer used for basketball. It was the first time five African-Americans started for one team in the NCAA title game. Members of the Texas Western team on hand were Orsten Artis, Louis Baudoin, Willie Cager, David Lattin, Nevil Shed and Willie Worsley. "Losing was not an option," Shed said of the title game win over legendary coach Adolph Rupp and the Wildcats. "The attitude we had was very, very positive." ... The Terps were coming off a 93-62 win at home over Division II Bowie State on Tuesday. ... The Badgers play Thursday at Michigan State, and Maryland plays the same day at Minnesota. ... Maryland won 63-60 at Wisconsin onJan. 9 when G Melo Trimble hit a late 3-pointer.