No. 16 Illinois men’s basketball drops Big Ten opener in narrow loss to No. 22 Maryland

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Sydney Laput

Senior guard Terrance Shannon Jr. dribbles the ball during the game against Syracuse on Tuesday.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

The Big Ten reigning champions kicked off the 2022-23 conference campaign on Friday night. No. 16 Illinois stumbled, however, on its trip to College Park, losing 71-66 to No. 22 Maryland to start Big Ten play 0-1.

Head coach Brad Underwood put out his go-to starting five of senior guard Terrance Shannon Jr., freshman guard Skyy Clark, sophomore guard RJ Melendez, fifth-year forward Matthew Mayer and junior forward Coleman Hawkins.

The game began with both teams going back and forth with consistent scoring, neither able to get off to any significant runs early on. Hawkins picked up where he left off against Syracuse and led the way for the visitors early on. The junior forward shot 3-3 to start, one of which being from beyond the arc.

Illinois managed to stay slightly ahead on the scoreboard and battled to a 14-11 lead with 14:08 left in the first half. However, after this point, things went south very quickly for the Illini. Hakim Hart and Jahmir Young sparked a 17-2 run for the Terrapins as the Illini failed to get anything to fall. There were long stretches of nothing but fouls, turnovers and blanks from the field.

Hawkins ended the scoring drought for Illinois with a three, and the team began to rally for a short span of time. The Illini got going on a 7-0 run off of buckets from Hawkins, Shannon and sophomore forward Dain Dainja.

Hart continued to be a thorn in Illinois’ side and responded with two consecutive three-point makes. The Illini trailed the rest of the half and found themselves down by seven. Hawkins finished the first period with 12 points and 4 rebounds as Illinois headed into the locker room on the wrong side of a 41-34 scoreline.

The second period saw Maryland maintain its halftime lead handily at the start. Shannon and Melendez began heating up for the Illini, combining to score the first 14 points of the second half for the visitors. As much as the visitors scored, however, Maryland was able to answer and maintained a ten-point advantage.

Illinois suffered a scare as Shannon went down after a brutal head collision with Maryland’s Julian Reese but later returned to the game.

In the final ten minutes the Illini began cutting down the Terrapin’s advantage. Melendez, Dainja, Epps and Shannon all scored to boost Illinois to a 9-0 run, now only behind 55-54 with 9:02 remaining.

After drawing a foul, Shannon tied the game at 57-57 after making one of his two free throws. Hart continued his sharpshooting for Maryland, hitting a fifth three-pointer to regain the lead.

A few possessions later Clark hit a big three to level the score at 62-62 with 3:37 remaining. A nervy back and forth ensued with the Terrapins continuing to add to its lead only for Shannon to answer right back. The Chicago-native finished the game as the leading scorer with 19 points, but with under a minute left the Illini found themselves down 67-66.

Maryland prevailed after a big three-point make from Young that iced the game with 14 seconds left. Illinois fought hard in its Big Ten opener but fell 71-66 by the end of regulation.

The Illini now move to 6-2 overall, 0-1 in conference play.

 

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