Trailing Northwestern 37-30 at halftime Monday, Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon told his players they were on their way to an eighth consecutive road loss, which would've sealed an under-.500 conference record for the first time since 2012-13.
"We're going to come up short again if you don't start guarding. We got no chance," Turgeon remembered telling the team. "If they put up 37 in the second half, we're done. It won't be close."
The Wildcats extended their lead to as much as 11 before Maryland's defense locked down, allowing 27 second-half points to power the Terps to a 71-64 win — their first victory away from Xfinity Center in more than two months.
"We guarded really well the last 15 minutes," Turgeon said. "That was really the difference."
Northwestern shot 44.8 percent in the first half, going 8-for-15 from beyond the arc. Wildcats guard Scottie Lindsey scored 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting, including a dunk late in the first half as part of a 10-2 run.
That gave Northwestern a sizable lead at intermission despite being without guard Bryant McIntosh, its second-leading scorer, due to a shoulder injury.
After the break, though, McIntosh's absence began to catch up to the Wildcats, Northwestern coach Chris Collins said.
"Not having McIntosh out there, we don't really have a true point guard on the floor," Collins said. "They got us out of the stuff we were trying to do. We got really sloppy."
A 3-pointer from forward Vic Law put Northwestern up 42-31 less than a minute into the second period, but the Wildcats would shoot just 1-for-9 from three-point range after that.
Maryland forced the home team into 10 second-half turnovers. That sloppiness allowed the Terps to secure their first lead of the second half with about nine minutes left, when guard Dion Wiley made consecutive fast-break layups after Northwestern turnovers, four of Maryland's 20 points off turnovers.
"Those turnovers gave them life," Collins said. "They were able to get the lead, and I thought their energy the rest of the way was really good."
A few minutes later, the backcourt pressure Turgeon credited with helping disrupt the Wildcats forced another turnover, when Lindsey was whistled for delivering a forearm to guard Anthony Cowan.
Forward Bruno Fernando scored a layup on the ensuing possession, putting Maryland up six points with 4:56 remaining. Northwestern would never get closer than five points after that. In their final road game, the Terps had finally managed to protect a lead away from Xfinity Center, giving it the opportunity to finish at .500 in Big Ten play with a win over Michigan on Saturday.
"[A 9-9 conference record] gives you a chance, still, to think positive thoughts," Turgeon said. "But we'll see. We've been through a lot."