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Rutgers men's basketball is beaten by Maryland

The Rutgers men's basketball team split its season series with Maryland after losing 68-59 at the Rutgers Athletic Center, dropping its 2021 record to 12-9.  – Photo by Rutgers Men’s Basketball / Twitter

The Rutgers men’s basketball team was defeated by Maryland 68-59 today. With the loss, the Scarlet Knights (12-9, 8-9) have lost their second game in a row and have split the season series with the Terrapins (14-10, 8-9).

The game started off as a back-and-forth contest, with Maryland holding a 9-7 lead with a little more than 15 minutes remaining in the first half. After Terrapin Eric Ayala's three-pointer broke a 16-16 tie with 7:29 remaining, Maryland proceeded to expand its lead to 28-20 heading into the halftime break.

At the end of the first half, senior guard Geo Baker led Rutgers in scoring with 7 points, while junior center Myles Johnson led on the boards with four first-half rebounds. Ayala led the Terrapins with 8 points at halftime.

In the second half, Maryland increased its lead to as much as 15 points as it led 41-26 with more than 13 minutes remaining in the game. In the ensuing minutes, the Knights would begin to chip away at the lead using a 15-6 run to make the score 47-41 with 7:37 to go.

This would be the closest Rutgers would get to catching the Terrapins, as Maryland would push its lead back up to double digits. The Terrapins would protect their lead over the final minutes to secure their fourth consecutive win as they look to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

For the Knights, senior guard Jacob Young scored a game-high 19 points, while Baker, who finished with 12 points, was the only other player to score in double-figures for Rutgers. Johnson and Baker were the team’s leading rebounders concluding the game with eight rebounds apiece.

On the opposite side, all of Maryland’s starters reached double-digit scoring led by Ayala, who finished with 14 points. In the rebounding category, Aaron Wiggins led the Terrapins and was the only player to reach double digits rebounding for both sides, collecting 10 rebounds. Hakim Hart led the team in assists with four on the game.

Maryland shot markedly better from the field, shooting 46.8 percent to 38.2 percent for the Knights. Despite this disparity, Rutgers was able to draw even in the rebounding battle, tying the Terrapins at 32 rebounds. In addition, the Knights turned in their second-best free throw percentage on the season, shooting 85.7 percent from the line on 14 attempts. Maryland shot 64.3 percent at the free-throw line on 28 attempts.

Sunday’s loss leaves Rutgers with three games remaining to strengthen its case for an NCAA Tournament bid. If the Knights can finish the season on a strong note, the program has the opportunity to reach its first NCAA Tournament since 1990-91.

Rutgers will host Indiana in its final home game of the season on Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

“I didn’t have them where they needed to be today. It’s 100 percent on me,” said head men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell after the game. “We have two days to get this thing right, and we will.”

For updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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