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Rutgers men's basketball wins defensive showdown against Maryland

Senior center Clifford Omoruyi of the Rutgers men's basketball team has now grabbed the fifth most rebounds in program history. – Photo by Daniel Fritz / Rutgers Athletics

The Rutgers men's basketball team defeated Maryland 56-53 on Tuesday night. The Scarlet Knights (12-10, 4-7) have now won back-to-back road games for the first time this season.

The game was a defensive battle from the start, with both teams committing two early turnovers. At the first media timeout, Rutgers had a 6-2 lead.

Not much changed as the first half progressed. Both defenses remained sharp, whereas the offenses struggled to shoot but went on their respective scoring runs.

The Terrapins (13-10, 5-7) came out of the first media timeout with a 6-0 scoring run, but the Knights fired right back with a 9-0 scoring run of their own, helping them take a 15-8 lead approximately halfway through the first half. Maryland seemed unfazed, though, going on an 8-1 run to tie the game 16-16 with 4:44 remaining in the first half.

Both teams traded baskets in the final 4 minutes, and the Terrapins took a 24-22 lead into halftime.

While both teams played strong defense, Maryland forced Rutgers into 12 turnovers, five more than it had. The Knights got their advantage from rebounding, grabbing four more offensive rebounds than the Terrapins and five more total rebounds.

Julian Reese had a strong first half for Maryland, leading the team with 9 points and seven rebounds. Despite Reese's strong performance, the Terrapins shot just 29.6 percent from the field and 10 percent from three-point range. Rutgers was not much better, though, shooting just 28.6 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from three-point range in the first half.

Both teams continued to go back and forth at the beginning of the second half, and the game was tied 30-30 with approximately 16 minutes left in the contest.

At the halfway point of the second half, the game was still tied 37-37, but the Knights retook the lead and began to go on a scoring run after redshirt junior guard Jeremiah Williams nailed a step-back three-pointer with the shot clock expiring to give Rutgers a 40-37 lead.

With 2:56 remaining, sophomore guard Derek Simpson made a difficult floater to expand the Knights' lead to 9 points, but on his way back down the court, he shushed Maryland's crowd and picked up a technical foul.

The Terrapins used the momentum gained from the technical foul to go on an 8-0 scoring run and cut Rutgers' lead to just 52-51 with 1:05 remaining. Senior center Clifford Omoruyi fouled out during the scoring run.

With the Knights needing a basket to halt Maryland's late scoring run, Williams came up clutch, driving inside the paint and converting the layup with just 0.1 seconds left on the shot clock.

Donta Scott made a layup of his own on the ensuing possession, but with the shot clock turned off, senior forward Mawot Mag was fouled, went to the free-throw line and made both of his free-throw attempts to reinstate Rutgers' 3-point lead.

The Terrapins had 17 seconds to tie the game up, but Jahmir Young was caught in a trap, and Scott's long-range contested three-point shot fell short to give the Knights the road victory.

Mag led the team with 15 points, while Williams was close behind with 14 points and five rebounds. Freshman guard Jamichael Davis only scored 3 points but was impactful on the defensive end with two steals, one block and multiple disruptions in the passing lanes.

Omoruyi made some personal history as he moved up to fifth all-time in program history for career rebounds.

"He embraces that role," said head coach Steve Pikiell on Davis' defense. "Real proud of him too — he's going to get stitches right now too, so he played through all that kind of stuff."

Sophomore center Emmanuel Ogbole also scored his first basket in a Rutgers uniform.

Reese led Maryland with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Both offenses struggled throughout the game, as the Terrapins scored 0.828 points per possession, and the Knights scored 0.875 points per possession.

Rutgers will head back to Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus to face No. 11 Wisconsin on Saturday. The game will tip off at noon and be broadcast on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

"It wasn't pretty, but it was beautiful," Pikiell said on the road victory.

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

To view more of Ellis Gordon's work, follow @EllisVGordon on X.

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