The last time the Maryland and Navy basketball teams met was in 1985, when advancement in the NCAA tournament was up for grabs and three basketball titans – Len Bias and Lefty Driesell for the Terps, David Robinson for the Midshipmen – followed the field.
Robinson was in court Friday night in the busy Hall of Alumni Hall in Annapolis over three decades and two NBA championships later. The Terps won that meet earlier, and they won again at the Veterans Classic, 78-57.
"Maryland has a great program and story, and for us it was really one of our upcoming games," Robinson said. "It's a great memory for me to play against Lenny Bias. And I liked Lefty Driesell; I've always thought that he was an underrated coach. They had a good group at the time. "
Maryland may be lacking the star power she had in 1985, but Anthony Cowan Jr. and the current team did a great job in front of an announced crowd of 5,710 people filling the lower board and much of the second floor of Alumni Hall.
Cowan had 24 points, a high point in the game. Darryl Morsell had 15 points, Aaron Wiggins was 12 and Jalen Smith added 11. Bruno Fernando led the team with 10 rebounds.
The Navy (0-2) kept the game competitive until the last minute. But unlike the opening game of the Terps season, Maryland (2-0) was able to finish with a late 10-0 run that almost assured victory.
Cam Davis led the Mids with 12 points and Alec Loehr added 11.
The Navy scored the first seven points of the second half, including a huge three-pointer from John Carter to form a 10-0 run that earned them 33-32. Three other players, George Kiernan's, tied the game at 35 with 17:21 to play.
The Terps do not escape until Cowan takes control six minutes later. Bowie's junior goaltender hit a lay-up and then stole the ball mid-way and sent the ball to Morsell for another basket, leaving Maryland a little margin for the first time.
Cowan dug the gap a few minutes later when he shot the reader a mistake. The free throws made all the difference on Friday and allowed the Terps to stay alive thanks to fallow expanses. They outclassed the Marine 23-12 on the goal line, including 13-5 in the second period.
The Navy began slowly, making only one of her first 11 shots and ending up in a 16-6 hole before Maryland suffered a four-minute drought and the Navy pulled herself together. The Terps flirted with a double-digit lead late in the first half but a turnover and two missed three-pointers allowed the Mids to remain within easy reach.
Members of a divided crowd shouted, "Good job, Maryland", as the Terps were leaving the field after the team's first trip to Annapolis since 1969. Maryland, as it was customary to surrender in the Classic Veterans, visited the Naval Academy before the game.
Smith, the freshman whose father spent 25 years in the Navy, explained what the long awaited meeting meant for him. Like Robinson, Smith left the game with unforgettable memories.
"It has special significance because I knew my father, he was less present when I was younger, because he would always be on leave and abroad," Smith said. "But now it reminds me of the hard work he has done to put me in the place I am now."
Wichita State (1-1) defeated Providence (1-1), 83-80, in the opening game on Friday, thanks to 32 points from senior striker Markis McDuffie. McDuffie scored six points, one better than brother's Alpha Diallo, who led coach Ed Cooley's team with 27 points.