Senior Anthony Cowan Jr. made a game-tying 3-pointer with 19 seconds left from the “Gary Williams logo” and his the game-winning free throw with 2.1 seconds left as the No. 3 Maryland erased a 15-point deficit in the second half to rally past Illinois 59-58 Saturday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
The Terrapins (10-0, 1-0 Big Ten) didn’t lead after halftime until Cowan’s free throw but still matched their best start since winning 10 straight to open the 1998-99 season.
Cowan collected a steal in the closing seconds of a tie game and was fouled in a scrum by guard Andres Feliz. Cowan made the first free throw and missed the second. Illinois (6-3, 0-1) failed to get a shot off in the remaining time.
Cowan had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Jalen Smith (14 points, 13 rebounds) recorded his sixth double-double of the season for Maryland.
Trent Frazier scored 13 points for Illinois, which nearly claimed its first road victory over a top-five team since 1989. The Fighting Illini have lost 15 consecutive road games against ranked teams and six straight conference openers.
Illinois led 39-25 at halftime and briefly pushed its lead to 15 in the second half, but Maryland gradually clawed back.
Donta Scott’s basket with 1:45 remaining got Maryland within 57-55, and Frazier split two free throws 2 seconds later. It remained a three-point game until Cowan hit a deep 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining.
The 14-point halftime hole was the largest Maryland has erased since coming back from a 15-point deficit at the break in an 80-78 defeat of Bucknell on Nov. 18, 2017.