COLLEGE PARK – The Maryland men’s basketball team (10-6, 2-6 Big Ten) hosted No. 17 Illinois Friday as it continued the search for their second win against Big Ten competition.
Donta Scott went off in a close affair, scoring a career-high 25 points to lift Maryland to an 81-65 home victory.
Scott came off the bench to score 10 points in the first half, then 15 more points in the second to cap off his career night. He finished going 9 of 12 shots from the field.
“Donta is a terrific basketball player,” Maryland interim head coach Danny Manning said. “His skill set allows him to do a lot of different things out on the court. But I think this type of game for him is what we would like to see.”
Fatts Russell dropped 15 points and collected seven rebounds, while Qudus Wahab and Hakim Hart put up 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The first half was very competitive with multiple lead changes, as the Fighting Illini (13-5, 6-2 Big Ten) was missing center Kofi Cockburn, who was in concussion protocol. However, thanks to a late fast-break dunk by Hart, the Terps entered halftime with a 37-35 lead.
Illinois gained some momentum early in the second half and regained a slight lead (48-42).
However, Maryland rallied. Russell hit a fast-break layup to tie the game at 51-51 with 13:02 remaining, while Julian Reese scored a 3-pointer with over eight minutes remaining to give Maryland a one-point lead.
As Maryland pushed to gain control of the game, Scott completed a 3-point play to give Maryland a six-point cushion with 6:01 remaining. The junior went on to score the game’s final 11 points. The Terrapins finished with their best shooting performance of the season, going 52.6% from the field, making 28 of 53.
The result was Maryland’s second win over a ranked opponent this season, taking advantage of Cockburn’s absence by outscoring the Fighting Illini in the paint 40-16 while also out-rebounding Illinois 33-30.
Illinois guard Alfonso Plummer stepped up with 14 points in the first half but held to just 4 points in the second.
“Wins are hard to come by, regardless of what league you play in or where you play,” said Manning. “The most important win is the next one. That’s our mindset.”
Photo Credit: Michael R. Smith/The Sports Pulse