Illini Drop Second Straight OT Game 92-91 To Maryland
The Illini men’s basketball team fell to 0-2 in Big Ten play, losing 92-91 in overtime to Maryland Sunday night in Champaign.
Illinois' Mark Alstork fouled Terrapins point guard Anthony Cowan with less than a second to play in overtime. Cowan converted his first free throw, then intentionally missed the second to prevent the Illini from getting a final shot.
The Illini had possession and a two-point lead with fewer than five seconds remaining in regulation, but were unable to inbound the ball under the Maryland basket. Da'Monte Williams was the inbounding passer, Mark Alstork was the intended recipient. Kipper Nichols was the eventual target of a long pass that missed its mark.
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood described exactly what that play was meant to accomplish, and what went wrong.
“It’s a play we call ‘arrow.’ I’ve run it forever," Underwood said. "We knew they’d take a guy off the ball. We would go with the first guy. I thought he was open. Gotta make the pass. It was not to throw it deep. It was to get the ball in to get fouled.”
That turnover allowed the Terps a last second three-point attempt by sharpshooter Kevin Huerter. His miss was tipped in by Bruno Fernando as time expired, sending the game to an extra period.
That Illinois led in the final seconds was remarkable. Maryland opened the game with ten straight points. The Terrapins connected on 73-percent of their first half shots, including 5-7 on three pointers. Their lead ballooned to twenty-two points.
Junior Aaron Jordan described the Illini effort in the first half as "unacceptable."
"As a team, that will be talked about, just between players," Jordan said. "Coming out like that, that lost us the game right there. It was pathetic on our part."
But Illinois' defense forced 25 Maryland turnovers, including seven by Cowan, which allowed Illinois to drive and shoot its way back into the game. The driving was performed by Trent Frazier and Kipper Nichols, who scored 11 points each. The shooting was executed by Alstork and Jordan, who each connected on 3-of-5 three-pointers.
Alstork finished with 17 points and Jordan with 15. Leron Black led the Illini with 18 points.
Maryland improves to 1-1 in the Big Ten, 7-3 overall. The Illini are 6-3 on the year, having lost three in a row, the last two in overtime.
Following an 0-2 Big Ten start, the Illini will return to non-conference play for the remainder of 2017. Next up is a home game with Austin Peay on Wednesday.