NEW YORK — When junior forward Khalil Iverson was fouled with less than one second to play and Wisconsin (8-11 Big Ten, 15-17 overall) leading by five points, freshman guard Brad Davison’s hands shot to the sky in excitement. Seconds earlier, with UW leading by only three, Iverson made what was the Badgers’ biggest play of the season, intercepting an errant Maryland (8-11, 19-13) inbound pass to help Wisconsin advance to the third round of the Big Ten Tournament.
For those who enjoy an offensive showcase, UW’s 59-54 victory was far from a worthwhile spectacle, but Davison, Iverson and rest of the Badgers did just enough to move on and take their third swing at the Michigan State Spartans on Friday.
In a sloppy first half, both the Badgers and Terrapins struggled from deep as they combined to shoot only 3-of-19 from three. A nine-plus minute UW scoring drought helped Maryland remain within striking distance as Wisconsin couldn’t extend its lead to more than seven at any point in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Freshman guard Brad Davison scored six early points for UW but picked up his second foul with 4:35 to go in the half and Maryland began to chip away. Anthony Cowan Jr. knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:14 in the half to give Maryland a one-point lead, but its lead was brief as Happ answered with a pair of his own to give UW back the advantage.
Coming out of the locker room up 28-26, Wisconsin started out hot. It forced Terrapin turnovers on its first two possession and answered with field goals of its own to stretch its lead to seven.
But with just over 13 minutes to play and with Davison sitting on the bench with three fouls, UW led by only two.
With 12:42 to go in the game, redshirt freshman forward Aleem Ford missed a layup and his ensuing tip, but junior forward Khalil Iverson skied for an offensive rebound and made Wisconsin’s third shot of the possession and his free throw, stretching the Badgers’ lead to five.
Cowan Jr. and his backcourt mate Kevin Huerter wouldn’t be phased, however, as the Terrapins continued to battle the Badgers and keep the game close. Leading by three with 6:31 to go in the game, UW received a jolt of energy as Davison drew his first charge of the game, but Wisconsin was unable to capitalize on its next offensive possession.
But, just over two minutes later, Bruno Fernando would tie the score for the first time in the second half. Happ would answer with 3:09 to go with a pair of free throws, but Huerter nailed a floater on the ensuing Maryland possession.
Huerter continued to terrorize the Badgers as, for the next two possessions, he answered following two Wisconsin baskets.
After two offensive rebounds with 1:03 and 49 seconds to go, Wisconsin had possession with the score all tied. Davison found Pritzl with 28 seconds to go for an open 2-point jumper. But Huerter was fouled with nine seconds to go, giving the Terrapins a chance to tie the game. With Davison urging the Madison Sqaure Garden Maryland’s guard would only split his pair, his first attempt rolling off the iron.
Davison went to the line on the other end and calmly hit both of his free throws. And after a foul by the freshman guard with 5.6 to play to force an inbounds pass, Iverson stole Maryland’s pass and Wisconsin walked away with a five-point victory.
Defense iced the game away. And UW, as a result, gets one more shot at one of the best teams in country.