Wisconsin beats No. 2 Maryland 70-57 for 7th straight win
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Even when his team sputtered at the start of the Big Ten schedule, Wisconsin coach Greg Gard never stopped believing the Badgers would be a force in the conference.
Turns out, his faith was justified.
Vitto Brown scored a career-high 21 points and Wisconsin beat No. 2 Maryland 70-57 on Saturday night, ending the Terrapins’ 27-game home winning streak and knocking them out of first place in the Big Ten.
It was a stunning performance by the Badgers, who lost to Maryland 63-60 on Jan. 9 as part of a 1-4 start in conference play.
“We’ve come a long way,” Gard said. “I knew we were taking steps in the right direction. It was just a matter of time before we put a more complete game together. Tonight was as close to the 40 minutes of complete basketball that we’ve played.”
Bronson Koenig scored 16 points and Nigel Hayes added 14 for the Badgers (16-9, 8-4), who have won seven straight.
“The conference is full of great teams,” Hayes said. “It was just like another game to me, so it felt good.”
After Maryland used a 12-0 spurt to take a 14-7 lead, the Badgers reeled off 17 straight points while the Terrapins went 0 for 5 with seven turnovers.
“I just thought the first half we weren’t very good offensively,” Terps coach Mark Turgeon said. “We took six or seven shots I didn’t really love and we turned it over nine times. That’s 16 possessions right there. We lost the game in the last 10 minutes of the first half.”
After using a 28-5 run to go up 35-19, Wisconsin let the lead dwindle to six points with 10:48 remaining before pushing back. A 3-pointer by Koenig and a layup by Brown made it 53-41, and the Terrapins never threatened again.
“We played an exceptionally good team. I am extremely proud of our guys,” said Gard, now 9-4 since Bo Ryan retired in December.
Rasheed Sulaimon scored 17 for Maryland (22-4, 10-3), which went 20 for 50 from the field and 12 for 22 at the foul line.
“The reality of it is we’re 22-4. We’ve had a good year,” Turgeon said. “Every team goes through it. This is really probably the biggest adversity we’ve hit because we lost a home game. So, we’ll see how we handle it.”
The Terrapins made a decent run at digging out of the 16-point hole, but Wisconsin was simply too good to falter — even with starters Zak Showalter and Ethan Happ on the bench with four fouls.
Down 42-30, Maryland got a three-point play from Jake Layman. On the other end, Diamond Stone swatted a shot by Brown into the seats and promptly saluted the crowd.
Seconds later, Maryland reserve guard Jaylen Brantley drove for a layup. After Brown hit a 3-pointer, another layup by Brantley and a dunk by Stone made it 45-39.
But Wisconsin would not be denied. In the first game between the teams, Maryland guard Melo Trimble hit a last-second 3 to break a tie.
In this one, Trimble had 10 points on 1-for-14 shooting.
The Terrapins trailed 36-21 at halftime after making only one field goal over the final 13 1/2 minutes of the half — a 3-pointer by Sulaimon that halted a 23-2 run.
In the final seconds of the half, Wisconsin’s Charlie Thomas and Stone were both called for technical fouls during a heated exchange that brought Turgeon racing onto the court.
While getting up from the floor under the basket, Stone appeared to intentionally shove Brown’s face onto the court.
Wisconsin: The Badgers didn’t really change it up after the first game between the teams. “I think we got them to take some tough shots,” Gard said. “I don’t think it’s anything different than what we’ve done before, but we just played better tonight.”
Maryland: After the Badgers outrebounded Maryland 40-30 and scored 20 second-chance points, Layman said, “We’ve come a long way defensively, but we didn’t play as we have recently.”
Wisconsin: The Badgers improved to 4-3 on the road. ... Wisconsin has won eight of its last 11 games against top 5 teams.
Maryland: Stone, Layman and Trimble each scored 10 points. ... Sulaimon has reached double figures in five of his last six games.
Wisconsin: The Badgers travel to Michigan State on Thursday night, seeking a season sweep.
Maryland: The Terrapins face Minnesota on the road Thursday night.