All good things must come to an end. Entering Tuesday’s Dec. 28 matchup against Maryland (6-3, 1-2 Big Ten), the No. 6 Wisconsin men’s basketball team had won 15 consecutive home games dating back to last season’s 71-70 heartbreaking loss to Illinois.
After almost a year of dominance on their home court, the Badgers’ impressive streak came to an end last night in a 70-64 loss to Maryland.
The Badgers held a narrow 28-24 halftime lead going into the break. As the Badgers held a seven-point lead to open up the second half, Maryland gave Wisconsin a different defensive look, flipping to a 3-2 zone. The zone defense disrupted the Badgers’ offense and forced them into taking more outside shots.
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Wisconsin, who entered the game as the country’s 14th most proficient three-point shooting team, knocking down triples at a 41.7% clip, struggled from outside against the zone and only made eight three-pointers on 21 attempts. The zone frustrated Wisconsin’s offense and got them out of rhythm offensively.
“Our zone pushed them out to the perimeter. I think it slowed them down a lot there for us,” Maryland senior guard Eric Ayala told ESPN.
While Maryland’s defense was stout, the Terrapins also dominated Wisconsin inside offensively. The Terrapins outscored the Badgers 38-20 in the paint and held the Badgers to zero fast-break points.
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With five minutes to go, Wisconsin held a one-point lead until senior forward Jairus Hamilton knocked down a massive three-point shot that gave Maryland a 54-52 lead.
With the Terrapins leading by four with just over two minutes remaining, Badgers lead guard D’Mitrik Trice countered with a contested triple that cut the Terrapin lead to one. Trice continued his impressive play of late, scoring 25 points just days after scoring a season-high 29 in Wisconsin’s Christmas Day win against Michigan State.
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Trice’s play kept Wisconsin in the game, but it proved to be not enough. With Wisconsin trailing 62-59 in need of a stop, sophomore forward Donta Scott soared through the lane for a punishing two-handed dunk that capped off the upset. After clutch free throws sealed the game, the Terrapins escaped the Kohl Center with a 70-64 victory.
The Badgers will need to have a short memory as this Friday they take on N0. 21 Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are Wisconsin’s arch-rival and a surging contender for the Big Ten Championship. With the game being on New Year’s Eve, Wisconsin will look to cap off 2020 with a win Thursday afternoon.