Spartans mount comeback, take down Maryland

Trailing by 16 early, the Spartans fought back to advance to the Big Ten Tournament title game Sunday against Wisconsin. It came with big energy from Marvin Clark, a strong first half from Travis Trice and a 15-0 run to spur the comeback.

Michigan State looked dead in the water less than nine minutes into its Big Ten Tournament semifinal game against Maryland on Saturday.

Down 23-7, the Spartans looked out of sorts and about to get run out the gym.

From there, it was clawing, scrapping and, at times, dominating for Michigan State as it won 72-68 to advance to the finals against Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Senior guard Travis Trice had 20 points and senior forward Branden Dawson finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.

The Spartans cut the first-half lead down to eight for Maryland, as the Terrapins led 33-25 at the half. A 15-0 run early in the second half gave Michigan State the lead, which went back and forth a pair of times before the Spartans took the lead for good.

Early, Maryland star freshman Melo Trimble was on fire. The guard started 5 for 5 from the field with 13 of Maryland’s first 17 points as the Terrapins jumped out to a big early lead.

Trice kept the Spartans in it, as he hit a long two and drove to the hoop for another two. A pair of Dawson putbacks and a Trice three off an offensive rebound from Matt Costello pulled MSU within 25-20 on a 13-2 run.

Trice and Dawson combined for 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting in the first half, while the rest of the Spartans were just 1 of 9.

A quick Maryland 3-pointer put the Terrapins ahead 26-25 to open the second half, but Michigan State came storming back. An easy Costello lay in got things started as freshman Marvin Clark – who provided big energy and minutes early in the second half – came up big with a putback dunk on the next possession and Trice had a nice lay up in transition to pull within 36-33.

Clark came up huge again as he drove strong down the baseline and went up for a huge one-handed slam, bringing the run to 10-0. A Denzel Valentine 3-pointer from the corner gave Michigan State the 36-36 lead, which grew to 40-35 with a short hook from Costello.

Maryland responded with a 7-0 run as Evan Smotrycz hit a 3 and senior Dez Wells put back a Trimble miss and went at Costello to score another two, giving Maryland the lead back at 43-40.

The Spartans came back again as Trice’s drive tied the game 45-45 before MSU took the lead back as Dawson converted an inbound lob from Valentine to put MSU up 48-47.

A Gavin Schilling free throw and big dunk off a nice feed from Valentine put the Spartans up 51-48 – a lead they would not relinquish.

Dawson hit a pair of free throws then found Schilling open ahead of the pack, resulting in a flagrant foul on Smotrycz. Schilling hit one, then Valentine connected with Dawson on an alley oop to give MSU a 56-50 lead.

The lead grew to eight at 61-53 behind free throws and a tip in from Costello, who had all 10 points come in the second half.

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