Anthony Cowan dominates in No. 9 Terrapins' 75-66 win over Fighting Illini

Andy Kwong

The Terrapins (19-4) defeated the Fighting Illini (16-7) 75-66 on Friday night at the State Farm Center, improving their conference record to 9-3 to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. Anthony Cowan led the way with 20 points, his third-straight game leading the team in points.

It was one of those quality shooting nights for Maryland, making an impressive 60.9 percent from the field in the first half. This was the biggest matchup of the season for both teams, knowing what was at stake. Both coaches in Mark Turgeon and Brad Underwood were called for technical fouls in what was a heated game.

Despite the Terrapins good start, they trailed 42-40 by halftime. Maryland was down by as many as 14 points in the first half but shrunk the deficit to two points during an impressive 19-9 run in the last 6:30 before the break. 

Aaron Wiggins played a pivotal role in the comeback, draining two 3-point jumpers before the team made their way into the locker room.

In the second half, Maryland was just too good offensively and defensively.

The Fighting Illini struggled, making none of their 10 field goal attempts within the first eight minutes after coming out of the break.

Their sluggish performance allowed Maryland to go on a 13-0 run to take a 53-44 lead with 12:24 to go, highlighted by a contested made layup by Eric Ayala.

Even though Illinois made a strong push for a comeback, Maryland's stifling defense forced the Fighting Illini into making many difficult shots. Ayo Dosunmu led Illinois with 16 points.

Kofi Cockburn was limited to only nine points in the game while converting one of five goal attempts. Despite his struggles, it was a fun and physical battle to watch between him and Jalen Smith.

Five Terrapins scored in double digits: Cowan (20), Darryl Morsell (15), Ayala (12), Jalen Smith (11), Wiggins (10)

The Terrapins finished the night making 46.4 percent of their shots as they went on to win their sixth straight game, including 3-0 on the road against Big Ten teams during the streak.

Maryland will host Nebraska at the Xfinity Center on Tuesday, February 11 at 8:30 PM eastern time.