COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The first game-changing play from Melo Trimble came with his Terrapins clinging to a two-point lead over Nebraska late in Thursday’s Big 10 match-up at Xfinity Center. Trimble pulled down a defensive rebound, brought the ball up and helped Maryland work the clock down before drilling a long three-pointer with just under four minutes left.
Trimble’s next game-changing play came two possessions later. The Terrapins were still up five and again trying to work the clock down. Dez Wells took the ball towards the basket and kicked it back out to Trimble, who sank an NBA-length three-pointer from the top of the key that the crowd loved.
The final minutes of No. 16 Maryland’s 69-65 victory over Nebraska belonged to Trimble. He had an outstanding overall game with 26 points six rebounds and five assists – all team highs – but it was the plays the freshman made in the final minutes that helped the Terrapins escape with another victory in a close game.
Trimble took over in the last five minutes. After Maryland had a 56-54 lead with just over four minutes left, Trimble scored 11 consecutive Terrapin points thanks to the two three-pointers along with five free throws as Maryland (22-5, 10-4) held off a stubborn Nebraska (13-13, 5-9) team.
In the end, though, the two long-range shots proved to be the game-breakers.
“The first one wasn’t too tough,” Trimble said. “He’s a smaller defender so I just rose on top of him, but he is a great defender, so that was basically all I could do because I knew I couldn’t get past him. He’s quick on his feet so that’s pretty much the easier shot.”
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said he wasn’t shocked to see Trimble dominate the game in final minutes. It’s a show he’s watched before.
“Melo was terrific down the stretch,” Turgeon said. “Nothing he does surprises me because I’ve been watching him do this his entire life. I thought he was very patient and let the game come to him. He was very efficient tonight.”
Trimble truly carried Maryland in those last minutes, but it was simply the end of a very good night for the Maryland freshman.
He made seven of nine from the field—including two of three three-pointers – and also sank 10 of 11 from the line. The guard hurt Nebraska inside and outside, something that coach Tim Miles certainly noticed.
“[Trimble] is a special player; he’s a dynamic player,” Miles said. “He’s so strong to go in and be able to draw fouls and then he just steps up and makes those two threes late. Those two threes that I remember seemed like daggers. I thought Trimble’s threes were really the separation point.”
Nebraska guard Terran Petteway said the Cornhuskers were keeping a close eye on Trimble, and they actually did keep him quiet at times. They did a good job of double-teaming him out on the wings and forcing the freshman to give up the ball in spots.
But in the end, Trimble kept finding ways to make plays.
“He kind of went off on us, and I think that kind of hurt,” Petteway said. “We did an okay job on Melo, but he still hit two big threes down the stretch that kind of hurt us.”
Trimble also hurt Nebraska with his late free throws. He made five of six from the line, all of which came in the final minute, shots that helped Maryland stay in command and hold off the Cornhuskers.
Trimble wound up leading the way for another Terrapin close victory. Maryland’s been making a habit out of that lately, scoring three Big 10 wins in a row by a combined total of nine points.
Before that, the Terrapins’ last two conference wins came by a total of seven points. Turgeon was very happy with the way his team played in the later minutes especially because they could have folded after losing an 11-point first-half lead and then watching a seven-point second-half edge slip down to one.
Maryland improved to 8-0 this season in games decided by six points or less.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Turgeon said. “They figured it out and got it done. Once again, it was a close game. I just keep telling guys when they make shots on us and it gets close, I said…it’s good for us. Let’s enjoy it and let’s figure out a way to win the game. That’s what we did.”
Maryland again helped its cause with strong free throw shooting. The Terrapins have been strong with that throughout the season, and they made 22 of 25 from the line in this game while Nebraska hit just three of seven.
The Terrapins also got 14 points apiece from Wells and Jake Layman. Wells also played a big role with a strong defensive performance against Petteway, the top Nebraska scorer. He came into the game average 18.7 points per game, but Wells helped limit him to just eight points thanks to a 2-for-14 effort from the field.
Trimble and his teammates now have to worry about No. 5 Wisconsin, who comes to College Park next Tuesday for a crucial Big 10 match-up. He and the other Maryland folks who talked after this game said they’re not changing anything they do and still looking at everything just one game at a time.
The Terrapins know some things that must be improved upon, starting with rebounding as Nebraska held a 10-1 edge in offensive rebounding despite coming into this contest ranked 331st in the nation in that category.
Maryland used a smaller lineup at times in this game because the Cornhuskers shot better than they’ve usually done this season. That could be one reason Nebraska held a big edge in offensive rebounding.
In fact, it was a guard who posted that lone offensive rebound. It’s not surprising that, on this night, Trimble was that player. The Terrapins will need another big performance from him to have a good shot at knocking off Wisconsin.
“They got the number in front of them; we’ve got the number in front of us,” Trimble said. “It’s going to be a battle.”
Trimble, Terps Outlast Nebraska
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