COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Anthony Cowan ran the Maryland offense, made several clutch shots, was a force on the boards and spent plenty of time at the foul line.
What more could a coach ask?
“Man, was he good,” Mark Turgeon said after Cowan had 25 points and 10 rebounds, both career highs, in a 79-65 victory over Butler on Wednesday night.
Cowan has assumed the role held over the past three years by Melo Trimble, who did it all for the Terrapins before leaving after his junior season.
Though it would be presumptuous to compare Cowan to Trimble at this stage in the sophomore’s career, the potential is there.
“I think he’s really getting a feel for how to run the team,” Turgeon said.
Butler coach LaVall Jordan said of Cowan: “He does a really good job of playing with pace. He seeks contact. And he gets to the foul line. Melo Trimble taught him that because he got to the foul line at a high rate. And then he makes the big ones.”
The Terrapins (3-0) connected on 17 of 24 shots to take a 42-35 halftime lead, then opened the second half with an 11-5 spurt to increase the margin to 13 points.
“We made them take tough shots and they hit them,” Butler forward Sean McDermott said.
After Butler (2-1) closed to 61-56, Cowan drilled a long 3-pointer as the shot-clock was about to expire and freshman Darryl Morsell made a dunk off his own steal for a 10-point cushion with 5:30 left.
“When I come down and there’s two seconds left, I’ve got to shoot it,” Cowan said. “I’m happy I made it.”
Cowan went 5 for 8 from the floor, hit three shots from beyond the arc and had five assists in 37 minutes. It was his first career double-double.
Maryland shot 57 percent from the floor, going 9 for 20 from beyond the arc, and finished with a 40-27 rebounding advantage.
McDermott scored 17, but Butler lost for the first time since Jordan took over in June. The Bulldogs went 9 for 34 from the floor after halftime.
“I didn’t think it was a lack of effort at all,” Jordan said. “We’ve got to execute better, both sides of the ball.”
The matchup was part of the Gavitt Games, which matches teams from the Big East against the Big Ten.
Maryland prevailed despite committing 20 turnovers, including four by Justin Jackson. The sophomore forward was limited to four points but contributed 11 rebounds.
Playing on the road for the first time this season, Butler led 15-10 before Kevin Huerter and freshman Bruno Fernando each scored six points in a 22-5 run that put the Terps up by 12.
Fernando pumped his fist and yelled as he ran up the court, raising the enthusiasm of the 16,317 fans that came to see a rare early-season showdown between two perennially strong teams.
“That was a high-level game,” Turgeon said.
This was only the second meeting between the schools. In the first, Butler eliminated Maryland in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Butler: This was a tough early test for the young Bulldogs, who have only two seniors on the roster and were playing in a hostile environment for the first time under their first-year coach. To their credit, they kept their poise and finished with only 10 turnovers.
Maryland: The Terrapins needed a game like this, one that could challenge them to raise their level of play after breezing past Stony Brook and Maryland-Eastern Shore. Playing before a pumped-up crowd against a big-name opponent, the team gave the fans what they wanted and showed that this squad just might make some noise in the Big Ten.
“This team feels right defensively,” Turgeon said.
Butler: Faces Furman at home on Saturday, the Bulldogs’ fourth game in nine days.
Maryland: Hosts Bucknell on Saturday night, the second of four straight home games.