After Friday’s 18-point loss at Iowa, Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon said he would have preferred his Terps go down with some sort of fight, as they did in previous road losses at Penn State and Seton Hall.
No. 17 Maryland appeared on the verge of ending its road troubles Tuesday night against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center after reversing a five-point halftime deficit and leading by as many as five in the second half.
But crucial turnovers down the stretch, including one with 9.4 seconds left, led to a 56-54 loss to the Badgers. Darryl Morsell’s botched inbounds pass, which ended up being deflected by Brad Davison off the junior guard as he stood out of bounds, led to Davison’s go ahead 3-pointer.
After a timeout, senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr., who fueled Maryland’s second-half comeback and finished with 16 points, missed a 3-pointer from nearly the same spot as Melo Trimble’s game-winner here four years ago.
Sophomore forward Jalen Smith scored a team-high 18 points for the Terps, and sophomore wing Aaron Wiggins, benched for the first time this season after going scoreless in the loss at Iowa, finished with 15 points.
Redshirt junior center Nate Reuvers led Wisconsin (11-5, 4-2 Big Ten) with 17 points and Davison added 14.
It was the second straight defeat for Maryland (13-4, 3-3) and fourth straight on the road for the Terps this season.
Maryland trailed at halftime Tuesday by only five points after being down 14 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and it could have been worse since the Terps had twice as many turnovers (six) as assists while the Badgers had more than twice as many assists (seven) as turnovers (three).
That changed in the second half. Maryland opened the second half on a 15-9 run to take a 35-34 lead on a 3-point shot by Cowan, and then stretched the lead to five twice, first at 46-41 on a 3-point shot by Wiggins and later to 49-44 on a three-point play by Smith.
Wisconsin cut Maryland’s lead to 49-47 on a short hook by Reuvers and then one of two free throws by the 6-11 redshirt junior. After a couple of empty possessions, Smith extended the lead by hitting the front end of a one-and-one with a little under four minutes left.
Davison quickly cut it back to a point with a turnaround jumper in the lane. After Smith failed to convert a lob pass from Wiggins, the Badgers took the lead with 2:51 when redshirt sophomore Kobe King posted Morsell inside and scored to make it 51-50.
Wiggins gave the Terps the lead right back with a floater in the lane. Maryland had a chance to build on the lead, but couldn’t corral the rebound off two missed 3-pointers. The second resulted in a foul on freshman Donta Scott, but freshman Tyler Wahl missed the front end of a one-and-one.