No. 5 Maryland will try to remain unbeaten when it plays Harvard for the first time in the Orlando Invitational semifinals on Friday.
The Terrapins (6-0) needed to rally late for a 76-69 victory over Temple in a quarterfinal matchup.
Harvard (5-2) topped Texas A&M 62-51 in another Thursday quarterfinal.
Maryland senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. led the way against the Owls by scoring a career-best 30 points and hitting 11 of 19 field-goal attempts.
Cowan nailed a crucial 3-pointer from the left corner as Maryland took the lead in the back-and-forth game in the final minutes before pulling away. That was the most points a Terrapins player had scored in a game since Melo Trimble posted 32 against Northwestern on Feb. 15, 2017.
Cowan and Eric Ayala came up big in the final minutes to help the Terrapins gain control against a stubborn Temple team.
“The bottom line is it’s about winning,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon told the media. “We’ve figured out every game how to win. I was really proud of our guys this early in the season to execute the way we did down the stretch.”
As for Cowan, his 30 points pushed him past Derrick Lewis into 18th place in scoring in Maryland history. Cowan now has 1,470 points and also is ninth all-time with 464 assists.
The 6-0 start is Maryland’s fifth in the last six seasons. The Terps last made it to 7-0 three years ago and are trying to do it for the fourth time under Turgeon.
The last time the Terrapins played an Ivy League team was nearly four years ago against Princeton.
Harvard advanced at Orlando thanks to Justin Bassey’s 16 points and Bryce Aiken’s 15 against Texas A&M.
The Crimson also helped their cause by sinking all 22 free throws as they grinded out a tough victory. Harvard built a 12-point lead and was able to hang on.
“Neither team played a pretty form of basketball, but it was gritty and it was tough, and I thought our kids were on the winning side of that,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said after the game. “We probably made more of those plays, and we needed to.”
The Aggies shot just 31.4 percent against Harvard, but the Crimson made only 32.1 percent of their shots.
Forward Robert Baker had just two points but pulled down 13 rebounds, a big reason Harvard held a 40-30 boards edge over the Aggies.
Amaker said of the challenge of opposing Maryland, “It’s obvious where they are ranked and the players that they have. They had a tough game earlier (Thursday), and we had a tough game. … We expect them, obviously, to be at their best. They are playing for an opportunity to win a championship this early in the year, so we expect an outstanding team, which is what they are.
“We need to turn this around and get some rest real fast. They are an explosive team, they have all the pieces to the puzzle to be arguably a Final Four team. Senior point guard, big man inside, wing players that are physical and strong. We’re going to need our best effort to have a chance to compete with this team.”
–Field Level Media