COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WCIA) — For as good as the Illini were in the first half, they were equally as poor when it mattered most. No field goals in the final five minutes, just 2-12 in the final 12 minutes, as the Terps turned a nine point deficit with 4:33 to play into a one point win.
Maryland led for all 27 seconds total and just two seconds in the second half.
“And it came down to a little bit of luck on a broken play from a very good player who’s playing at an extremely high level, that’s what four year seniors do,” Brad Underwood said. “And Cowan throws one in from 30 and unfortunately we play for the last play.”
It’s the second straight game Illinois had a chance to win it late but couldn’t get a shot off. Andres Feliz turned it over with two seconds left, then fouled Anthony Cowan Junior trying to get the ball back. He made one of two free throws, missing the second one on purpose. The Illini spoiled a 15 point second half lead and the chance to beat a Top 5 team on the road for the first time since 1989.
“I mean this one was tough, especially being on the road,” Da’Monte Williams said. “Coming in and playing a Top 5 team in the country but credit to them, their guy made a shot and stepped up for them big.”
“We knew they was going to make a run, that’s what teams do,” Ayo Dosunmu said. “Good teams at home always make a run no matter how much you have them down so we knew that they was going to make a run but we just wanted to sustain it and I feel like we did that and miracle, Christmas miracle they got.”
The Illini are a quarter of the way through their season now and still don’t have a win over a high major team, with losses to Arizona, Miami and now Maryland. They’ll get another chance on Wednesday with No. 4 Michigan visiting State Farm Center.