COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Jalen Smith had 22 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for his ninth consecutive double-double, and No. 7 Maryland extended its winning streak to nine games by defeating Northwestern 76-67 Tuesday night.
Smith achieved his 17th double-double of the season by halftime. In two games against Northwestern this season, the 6-foot-10 sophomore has 47 points and 30 rebounds.
Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 19 for the Terrapins (22-4, 12-3 Big Ten), who never trailed in improving their record at home to 15-0. The victory, combined with Penn State’s loss to Illinois, left first-place Maryland with a two-game lead with five games to go.
Ryan Young scored 17 and Boo Buie added 15 for the Wildcats (6-19, 1-14) in their 10th successive defeat.
Down by 12 at halftime, Northwestern trailed only 50-46 with 10:45 left. It was 63-57 before a dunk by Smith, two free throws by Cowan and layup by Aaron Wiggins put the Terps up 69-57 with 3:23 remaining.
When the teams met at Northwestern a month ago, the Terrapins rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to win 77-66. This time, Maryland took charge at the outset.
Smith had 10 points and six rebounds in the opening seven minutes to stake the Terps to a 17-6 lead. After the Wildcats closed to 25-22, Darryl Morsell, Wiggins and Eric Ayala hit successive 3s and Cowan added a free throw for a 13-point cushion.
A late dunk by Smith made it 37-25 at halftime.
MOVING ON UP
Cowan passed Tom McMillen to move into eighth place on Maryland’s career scoring list. Cowan, a senior guard, has 1,809 points and is 49 short of catching Lonny Baxter for seventh. The school record is 2,269 by Juan Dixon.
Northwestern: The Wildcats can take solace in making a game of it on the road against a Top 10 team. But what Northwestern could use instead of a moral victory is a real one, a feat the Wildcats haven’t accomplished since Jan. 11 against Nebraska.
Maryland: One week after squeezing past lowly Nebraska at home, the Terrapins left nothing to chance against an overmatched opponent. It wasn’t a blowout, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Maryland now stands two wins away from a perfect season at home.
Northwestern hosts Minnesota on Sunday, the rematch of a game the Wildcats lost 77-68 on Jan. 5.
Maryland faces No. 25 Ohio State on Sunday to begin a stretch in which the Terrapins play three of four on the road.