NICEVILLE, Fla. — A heartbreaking loss the day before lit a fire under Maryland’s players, who responded with a scorching 27-3 run to open their next game against New Mexico.
Anthony Cowan led the way with 21 points as the Terps topped the Lobos 80-65 in the Emerald Coast Classic consolation game Saturday at Northwest Florida State College.
Maryland (5-1) got back on the winning track in a big way after a two-point semi-final loss Friday to St. Bonaventure.
“We were kind of upset about yesterday,” Cowan said. “I think we played with a lot of energy.”
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was pleased the way his players responded but said the win doesn’t make up for losing the night before.
“We’re used to winning close games,” Turgeon said. “We had the lead twice in the second half (against the Bonnies) and let it go, but we moved on.”
It was more heartache, though, for the Lobos (2-4) who suffered their fourth straight loss. New Mexico coach Paul Weir said he thought his team played well after Maryland’s early onslaught.
“But you’re not going to come back against a team like Maryland down 27-3,” Weir said. “There’s just not enough bullets in the gun. Unfortunately, the start of the game ended up being the game.”
Cowan, a 6-foot guard, was 6 of 8 from the field, including 2 of 3 on three-pointers, and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. Justin Jackson added 16 points for Maryland, doing much of his damage at the free-throw line, where he went 8 of 8.
Chris McNeal led the Lobos with 19 points and Anthony Mathis added 12.
The Terps sprinted to their 24-point lead in the first 8:36. The run featured six 3-pointers including two each by Kevin Huerter and Dion Wiley. The Lobos narrowed the gap to 46-28 at the half but did little more than trade baskets with the Terps the rest of the way.
Maryland: The Terps’ bounced back after their season-opening winning streak ended at five games late Friday, when they gave up an eight-point second half lead in losing 63-61 to St. Bonaventure. That loss also broke Maryland’s streak of four non-conference, regular season tournament championships. “In the end our defense let us down,” said Turgeon, but he had nothing by praise for Cowan, who was the Terps’ only double figure scorer against the Bonnies with 13.
“Anthony had two phenomenal games down here,” Turgeon said. “He’s the kind of kid who probably can play three games in one day.”
New Mexico: The Lobos visit to the Florida Panhandle added two more defeats to what’s now a four-game losing streak that began with a loss to in-state rival New Mexico State. The Lobos’ 69-67 loss Friday night to TCU came after McNeal hit a three-pointer with seconds remaining to pull the Lobos within two points. McNeal then missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer.
Maryland: The Terps get only one day off before hitting the road again Monday to take on a well-rested and undefeated (5-0) Syracuse team and then open their Big 10 schedule on Friday hosting Perdue.
New Mexico: The Lobos host Evansville (5-1) on Wednesday in a Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge game.