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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern falls to Maryland 94-87 in double overtime thriller

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That’s going to sting for a while.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON, Ill. — It’s the hope that kills you.

In a thrilling, back-and-forth matchup which saw Northwestern erase a six-point deficit with under 30 seconds to play in regulation, Maryland defeated the Wildcats by a score of 94-87 in double overtime.

Pete Nance and Robbie Beran led the way for Northwestern with 28 and 19 points, respectively. Nance also added 14 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. For Maryland, it was the Eric Ayala show. The senior pulled in a double-double of his own with 26 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 5-for-11 on the night from behind the three-point line.

Both teams started cold and missed their collective first five shots, but a pair of threes by Robbie Beran and Boo Buie helped the ‘Cats build an early 8-2 lead.

Following the under-16 media timeout, the Wildcats failed to build on their strong start and could not find an offensive rhythm, but the Terrapins couldn’t capitalize. Outside of UMD guard Hakim Hart, who scored five of the team’s first seven points, Maryland shot 1-for-11 in the early going.

The ‘Cats continued their offensive struggles with ample contested misses in the paint. But a block and a layup by Beran helped Northwestern maintain a 17-11 edge with eight to play in the half.

Coming out of the timeout, Maryland began to find its groove. Four-point and three-point plays by guard Eric Ayala sparked a 10-2 Terrapins run to take a 21-19 lead, their first of the game. Elyjah Williams and Ty Berry stopped the bleeding with a layup and a jumper off an inbound play to help the ‘Cats retake the lead.

Both teams continued to trade offensive blows from there to end the half. A three-pointer by Terrapin forward Donta Scott made it 24-23 Maryland, but Chase Audige, who missed his first four shots, responded with a contested mid-range jumper to take back the lead.

Ayala and Hart carried the offensive load for the Terrapins to the end of the first half, combining for the team’s last six points, but a layup by Beran evened the score at 30-30 heading into halftime.

Maryland carried its offensive momentum into the second half with three-pointers from Scott and guard Fatts Russell, but Beran answered with two more layups to tie the game at 38 apiece going into the under-16 stoppage.

Another three from Russell plus an and-one from Hart sparked a 6-0 run to give UMD a 44-40 lead, while Julian Roper II kept the ‘Cats within reach with a midrange jumper and solid defensive play.

After a few defensive stops, Northwestern built some momentum with persistent offensive rebounding. Second-chance makes from Williams and Ryan Young gave the ‘Cats a 48-46 lead and forced head coach Danny Manning to use a timeout.

The game’s tempo slowed down for a few minutes until Ayala and Nance began to trade three-pointers with about eight minutes to play. Each buried two shots from beyond the arc as Maryland took a 56-54 lead.

A pair of free-throws from Beran put NU back on top 58-57. But Scott responded with a tough putback over Nance and later buried a pair of free throws to give the Terrapins a 61-60 edge.

Ayala kept pouring it on with his fifth three-pointer of the night and a layup to put the Terrapins up 66-62 with just under four minutes remaining. Nance then missed a crucial free throw which would have cut Maryland’s lead to three. Russell capitalized with two of his own makes from the line to give UMD a six-point lead.

Scott and Ryan Greer traded baskets to make the score 70-66 in the Terrapins’ favor. An Ayala miss from long-range gave the ‘Cats an opportunity to cut the lead to one possession, but a missed layup from Greer put a damper in NU’s hopes. Hart responded with a layup to make the score 72-66 Maryland.

With under 30 seconds to play in regulation, it looked like Northwestern had all but lost. But a Maryland travel and a three from Nance kept the Wildcats in the game.

After what appeared to be a UMD turnover off an inbounds play, Scott committed a flagrant foul to give NU two free throws and the ball. Beran made both, which gave the ‘Cats an opportunity to win the game.

On the ensuing possession, Scott fouled Nance on a drive to the basket. He made one of two free throws to tie the game at 72. Ayala had a chance to win it for Maryland, but missed a three-pointer as time expired to send the game to overtime.

Wahab made one of two free throws to open the overtime period, putting UMD up by one. But Audige responded with a second-chance score and a three-pointer to put the ‘Cats ahead 77-73. After a pair of free throws from Russell, Nance made a layup to keep the four-point lead.

With just over a minute to play, the Terrapins’ press defense forced Chris Collins to call a timeout.

Hart made one of two from the line to cut Northwestern’s lead to one. Buie responded with a tough midrange jumper, but a three-point play from Russell evened the score at 83-83 with 34.3 seconds to play.

Greer then missed a potential go-ahead three, but a rebound from Young gave Northwestern a chance to win the game with 3.2 seconds left. After a failed lob attempt to Nance coming out of a timeout by Collins, Russell missed a half-court heave to send the game into a second overtime.

Russell and Hart both made jump shots to pull the Terrapins ahead 89-85. Nance then suffered a lower-body injury which forced him to temporarily leave the game.

Nance’s absence immediately sucked the wind out of NU’s sails on offense. Maryland forced a shot-clock violation to hold its four-point edge. Three offensive rebounds from the Terrapins allowed them to maintain their four-point edge and force the ‘Cats to foul with about 45 seconds left.

Russell made the front end of a one-and-one to increase the Maryland lead to 90-85. Nance then converted a second-chance opportunity to cut the deficit to three. But four free throws from Wahab and Russell put the nail in the coffin for the ‘Cats, who wound up scoring just four points in the second overtime period.

Northwestern will head up to East Lansing to take on Michigan State at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday.