The last time the Maryland and Navy men's basketball teams met was in 1985, when it came to the NCAA tournament and a trio of basketball titans – Len Bias and Lefty Driesell for the Terps, David Robinson for the Midshipmen – stole the yard.
Robinson sat on Friday night in Annapolis over three decades and two NBA championships later on Friday night in the crowded Alumni Hall. The Terps won this earlier meeting and again won the Veterans Classic, 78-57.
"Maryland has such a great program, a great 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 loved Lefty Driesell. I always thought he was an underrated coach. They had a great group back then. "
Maryland may miss the star power of 1985, but Anthony Cowan Jr. and the current team have done well in front of an announced 5,710 crowd that filled the bottom bowl and much of the second row at Alumni Hall.
Cowan had a game with 24 points. Darryl Morsell had 15 points, Aaron Wiggins 12 and Jalen Smith 11. Bruno Fernando led the team with 10 rebounds.
Navy (0-2) kept the game competitive until the final minutes. Unlike the season opener of the Terps, Maryland (2-0) prevailed with a 10-0 run towards the end and secured the victory.
Cam Davis topped the mids with 12 points and Alec Loehr added 11.
Navy scored the first seven points of the second half, including a huge three-pointer from John Carter, who put together a 10-0 run, beating Maryland's heels (33-32). Another three, that of George Kiernan, tied the game at 17:21 to play.
The Terps did not stop until Cowan took control six minutes later. Bowie's young guard struck a layup, struck the ball in the middle, and brought the ball to Morsell for another basket, giving Maryland half for the first time.
Cowan enlarged the gap a few minutes later as he fouled an entry into the basket. Free throws made a difference on Friday, keeping the Terps alive through fallow tracks – they outperformed Navy 23-12 from the foul line, including 13-5 in the second half.
Navy took off slowly, making only one of the first eleven shots and falling into a 16-6 hole before Maryland suffered a four-minute drought and the Navy struck back. The Terps had flirted with a double-digit lead late in the first half, but sales and two missed three-pointers kept the Mids within reach.
Members of a divided crowd shouted, "Good work, Maryland," as the Terps left the field after the team's first trip to Annapolis in 1969. Maryland was, as is usual with Veterans Classic hosts, before the game at the Naval Academy.
Smith, the freshman whose father had spent 25 years in the Navy, talked about what the long-awaited gathering meant to him. Like Robinson, Smith left the matchup with lasting memories.
"It has a special meaning because I knew my father – he was not that young yet because he was always on vacation and abroad," Smith said. "But now it just brings back memories of all the hard work that has brought me to the place I am now."
Wichita State (1-1) defeated Providence (1-1), 83-80, in the opening game on Friday thanks to top scorer Markis McDuffie's 32-point whack. McDuffie hit six three-pointers – one better than the Friar's Alpha Diallo, who led the team of coach Ed Cooley with 27 points.