ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan came close several times against Maryland, down to within a one-point reach of the Terrapins.
Close — one point, three points, four points — wasn’t going to be enough for Michigan on Saturday at the Crisler Center, as the Terrapins pulled away in the final minute for a 77-70 win.
Michigan couldn’t drive inside early and opened 2- for-8 from the floor, with its only successful successful shots being a pair of 3-pointers in the game’s first five minutes. While Maryland pressured early inside, Michigan came up with the defensive stops, with three defensive rebounds and two steals in first nine minutes, but the Wolverines went 6-for-20 from the floor in the first 13 minutes, including 3 for 10 from 3-point range.
Michigan (11-5, 1-2 Big Ten Conference) cut Maryland’s lead to four points with 4:02 left in the first half — after it trailed by 10 just two minutes prior, but the Terrapins (14-2, 2-1) closed on a 9-4 run in the final 4:10 to take a 37-28 lead at halftime.
Michigan opened the second half on a 9-1 run to cut lead to 38-37, a stretch in which the Terps went 0-6 shooting before it hit its first field goal of the second half, a 3-pointer by Jared Nickens about six minutes in.
Michigan again cut Maryland’s lead to 71-68 and 73-70 in the final two minutes, but despite Michigan’s furious defensive effort, the Terps held on.
WHY IT HAPPENED: Michigan coach John Beilein asked for more toughness from his players following Wednesday’s win against Penn State, in which the Wolverines rallied from an 11-point deficit. But a veteran team like Maryland, which came off a loss to Nebraska earlier this week, took advantage of Michigan’s long-range defense.
Maryland also held off Michigan when it cut the Terrapins’ lead to one point less than five minutes into the second half, and again when it cut the lead to two with about seven minutes left.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR MICHIGAN: Michigan has lost two of its last three games, both losses to Big Ten opponents since ending the December schedule with wins against Central Arkansas, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Furman, hardly Division I stalwarts, but Furman only lost by 6.
WHO STARRED: Damonte Dodd and Justin Jackson led Maryland with 15 points apiece. Michigan’s Mo Wagner led all scorers with 17 points, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 12 points, his first game in double figures since he scored 14 points Dec. 13 against Central Arkansas.
WHO STUMBLED: Michigan’s perimeter defense, as Maryland went 10 for 15 on 3-pointers. Michigan entered the game with the Big Ten’s worst 3-point defense (39.8 percent).
WHO IS NEXT: Michigan plays at Illinois at 9 p.m. Wednesday in Champaign, Ill.