COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A lot of Terrapins knew what they were going to do as the clock ticked down in the final seconds of Maryland’s 68-67 Big Ten home win over Northwestern Jan. 25.
Jake Layman knew his team had to hurry. He inbounded to freshman Melo Trimble right after Tre Demps’ clutch jumper put the Wildcats ahead with 9.3 seconds left, and told the freshman to hurry. Trimble said he knew he would shoot a 3-pointer because of the way the Wildcats were defending him off the drive, forcing him into bigger defenders and making a drive and foul a tricky proposition.
Dez Wells knew he wasn’t going to let Maryland lose this game.
“I just went to the basket and I wasn’t going to let anybody stop me from getting the ball,” said Wells, who had the game’s biggest bucket scoring on Trimble’s miss. “(Demps) hit the shot on me and that’s what’s really under my skin right now. He made a good move. It was a good shot. Melo missed it perfectly for me.”
Trimble, on his way to 27 points, did hurry and did fire up a three from the top of the key that caromed to the left of the basket, away from the Wildcats. Wells was Dez-on-the-spot with a soaring rebound and stickback before he came down, the ball going through the hoop with 1.4 seconds remaining.
“I didn’t like the shot Melo took,” said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. “We had been driving on them and getting to the rim. But Dez does what Dez does, and he was upset he let the guy score on him so he was going to get that ball. It was a big time tip.”
It was a big time comeback for Maryland, coming off the loss at Indiana, and then running into another hot-shooting Big Ten team in hard-luck Northwestern, which fell to 10-10 overall and 1-6 in the Big Ten with a sixth straight loss, the last three by five points, another by five and another in overtime.
The Terrapins (18-3, 6-2) won for the fifth time in the last six games to the delight of a loud crowd of 14,113 in Xfinity Center. “You have to win games like this to have a great year,” said Turgeon.
Of course Maryland never even led in this one until there were just 20 seconds remaining. It was Trimble and Wells, who had 17 points, who did most of the damage down the stretch in the last of many comebacks by Maryland. That duo – and Trimble calls them “Big Brother and Little Brother” – scored 17 of the Terrapins final 20 points. Jake Layman, who was under wraps most of the game, had a big 3-pointer with 1:03 left, too.
“Those guys can get to the rim,” said Turgeon of Trimble and Wells. “We made a couple of shots and we were able to space them out. We were doing some things in transition better. I was just happy for Dez. My whole thing with Dez is that he is just trying way too hard. I keep trying to get him to settle down. That said, he was great in the end, got the tip. I thought he played good defense and that kid, Demps, made a big-time shot.”
Demps had put Northwestern back in front with a jumper right in front of the Northwestern bench after a timeout and after Trimble gave the Terrapins their first lead with two free throws at 20.6 seconds. That play by the freshman capped another big night (9-of-10 free throw shooting, three assists and four steals in 37 minutes) and allowed him to finally out-duel Northwestern’s freshman flash, Bryant McIntosh, who had 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting, part of wondrous Wildcat shooting much of the evening.
Northwestern was around 70 percent in the first half and finished at 54.2 percent (26-of-48), the second straight Maryland opponent over 50 percent.
“That’s something we need to work on as a team,” said Layman, who had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds. “We definitely have been struggling defensively. We take a lot of pride in our defense.”
Down nine, under four minutes, the Terrapins found the frenzy that had been missing in their game on the defensive end. “The last (media) timeout, I kind of challenged my guys to elevate their games and they did,” said Wells. “They responded. That’s the sign of a potentially great team.”
Trimble got a three-point play on a drive and then the full court press began taking a toll. Wells scored on a drive, and when Layman and Evan Smotrycz forced a turnover at halfcourt, Wells got another basket to make it 63-59 with just 1:58 left.
Jershon Cobb rolled in a runner after Northwestern spread the floor and ran clock, but Layman picked an opportune time to hit his second 3-pointer of the evening, drilling one with 1:03 left to make it 65-62.
After Maryland got a defensive stop, such a rarity in the first half, Trimble scored on a drive to make it 65-64, and then fouled McIntosh on the inbound with 28.5 seconds left.
McIntosh made maybe two mistakes all night, and this was the first one, missing the front end of his one-and-one. The second was fouling Trimble with 20.6 seconds left. Trimble, as he is wont to do, dropped in both shots and Maryland had its first lead of the game, 66-65.
But the luckless Wildcats weren’t through. Demps, who had nine points, hit a 16-footer with 9.3 seconds remaining to regain the lead and set the stage for the final seconds and determined Dez, who kept pushing his teammates.
“Each of us individually kept us in it, especially Dez Wells,” said Trimble. “He is very positive and always asks us about our heart, if we still want to win. Having Dez on the court always puts us in a better mindset.”
Wells, who had hit just nine of his last 32 shots over three games, finally seemed to find his game, aggressive on offense but more efficient, hitting 6 of 10 shots and getting to the free throw line where he was 5-of-8. Maryland had a big edge at the line, canning 18-of-25 to Northwestern’s 7-of-9.
Trailing 14 early in the second half, Maryland got a driving score from Trimble, and then a 3-pointer from the freshman to make it 51-42 with 12:40 remaining. But out of a timeout, Sanjay Lumpkin hit his third 3-pointer of the night to again slow the Terrapins. Lumpkin, who did a nice job on Layman defensively, had 12 points and six rebounds. He hit all four of his shots, three from behind the arc.
The Terrapins made another run, Smotrcyz getting an offensive rebound and hitting two free throws, and then Trimble canning a three from Smotrcyz. When Wells hit one of two free throws, Maryland was within 55-50 with 8:34 to play.
McIntosh hit back-to-back tough drives to make it an 11-point game again, and the Wildcats were ahead 63-52 when McIntosh did it again, dropping in a driving 8-footer with just 3:45 left.
The Wildcats got just two field goals the rest of the way, hit just 1-of-8 threes in the second half and couldn’t even get off a final shot the last 1.4 seconds because of perfect Terrapin defense.
“Our intensity on defense, it’s not really a good thing to only bring in the last four minutes,” said Layman. “But we locked up and our press helped us a lot forcing turnovers in the end.”
Northwestern had 17 turnovers to 10 by the Terrapins.
The Terrapins scored the first five points of the second half, three at the line and a big stickback of a Wells miss by Layman that made it 41-35 with 18:27 to play. The Terrapins had chances to get closer but a couple of turnovers and then two free throws by Cobb slowed Maryland momentum.
Those free throws actually started an 8-point run. When Dave Sobolewski scored in transition off a Dion Wiley turnover, Northwestern’s lead was back to 49-35 with 14:59 to play.
Wiley didn’t score in one of his worst showings, playing just nine minutes. Jared Nickens had eight points but was just 3-of-11 from the field. Smotrycz, who played 23 minutes and played a lot of center in a small lineup, had five points, four rebounds and three assists. Jon Graham gave the team a lift in 10 hard-charging mintues but had just one point and three rebounds and couldn’t defend big Wildcat center Alex Olah, who fortunately had a little foul trouble.
Freshman Michal Cekovsky made his first start but disappeared quickly, missing two shots in five minutes. Damonte Dodd had a dunk but no rebounds in 12 minutes.
Northwestern shot 69.6 percent (16-of-23) in another blistering first half against Maryland’s defense, part of an unfortunate recent trend. The Wildcats were up 41-30 at the intermission, and dominating in nearly all phases.
“We were lost defensively the first half,” said Turgeon. “We were not alert and not very good.”
Northwestern led by just five when the Wildcats went on an 11-2 spree with 6:05 left in the half. Demps hit a 3-pointer, and McIntosh scored on a drive. Demps spun inside for another score before Trimble could answer with two free throws. But McIntosh drove in for a score and when Jeremiah Kreisberg hit two free throws at 3:39, Northwestern led 38-24.
Maryland fought back, Smotrcyz hit one of two free throws and then got a rebound and fed Nickens for a 3-pointer. Sobolewski drilled a trey – the Wildcats were 7-of-12 behind the arc in the half – and Northwestern led 41-28 with 1:35 remaining. Smotrycz scored inside to put the final points on the halftime scoreboard.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 19-11 lead in the first eight-and-a-half minutes, hitting eight of their first 11 shots, in an opening too reminiscent of Maryland’s struggles last time out at Indiana. McIntosh had a hot hand, scoring seven points in the run.
Trimble drove in for a score to end a Maryland drought of three minutes and 59 seconds and make it 19-13 at 10:53. But back–to-back 3-pointers from Lumpkin gave Northwestern a 25-13 edge.
Wells scored on a coast-to-coast take for a three-point play, and when he got another three-point play at 7:26, Maryland was back within 25-20.
Layman, who hit a three just 1:34 into the game, didn’t score again in the first half. As a team, the Terrapins shot 41.7 percent (10-of-24) in the first 20 minutes and got out-rebounded 16-7. Maryland finished hitting 22-of-54 (40.7 percent) and battled on the boards but lost, 32-27.
The Terrapins are back on the road next, traveling to Ohio State Thursday. They’re back home Feb. 4 to host Penn State.
Dez Does It In the End, Terps Take NW
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