Featured image courtesy of UMterps.com
Guard Rasheed Sulaimon drew a foul in the backcourt with 43.4 seconds remaining in Maryland’s second round game against Hawaii. With his team leading 69-58, Sulaimon was giddy. He grabbed guard Melo Trimble and hugged him before strolling down the court to make two free throws.
For the first time since 2003, the No. 5 seed Terps punched their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen as they defeated the No. 13 seed Rainbow Warriors in Spokane, Was. on Sunday.
“We played well defensively today, they bought into the team defense today,” head coach Mark Turgeon said in a postgame interview on TBS. “Not great offensively, but we were good enough to win.”
Though The Terps struggled on offense at times, making 1-of-18 shots from behind the 3-point line and were outrebounded 42-35 overall and 16-2 on the offensive glass, they made up for it at the charity stripe, making 28-of-31 free throws.
Trimble led all players in scoring with 24 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field, 13-of-14 shooting from the free throw line and one converted three in six attempts. He also grabbed eight rebounds and recorded three assists. Sulaimon and center Diamond Stone each added 14 points. Sulaimon also pulled down five boards and dished out three assists.
Forward Mike Thomas made 8-of-12 shots and posted a double double with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Rainbow Warriors in both categories. The rest of his team shot 25.9 percent from the field (15-for-58).
While the Terps overpowered the Rainbow Warriors in the second half, it took the higher seed some time to fuel their engine early in the game.
Maryland did not make a field goal until six minutes into the game when forward Robert Carter Jr. scored a field goal. Despite this empty stretch, Maryland only trailed Hawaii 6-4.
After trailing 10-4 at the under-12 media timeout, Maryland started to feed center Diamond Stone. Four seconds out of the timeout, point guard Melo Trimble found Stone for a slam.
Hawaii Guard Aaron Valdez responded with a three, but the Terps fired back with a 8-0 run to take their first lead of the game. After making seven consecutive shots over seven and a half minutes, the Terps took a 24-20 lead.
Though they allowed eight offensive rebounds and missed all eight of their shots from downtown in the first half, the Terps took a 28-27 lead into the break.
Over 8:32 minutes in the second half, Maryland went on a 21-7 run to take a 14-point lead, their largest of the game. After the run, with 5:56 remaining, the Terps led 57-43. Maryland also went on 17-2 and 14-0 runs within the stretch.
During the 21-7 run, Sulaimon scored two points and dished three assists. The Terps went up 48-41 and appeared to take the momentum when Trimble sank the team’s lone triple of the game.
The Terps held Hawaii to no field goals for 11 and a half consecutive minutes in the second half.
As the clock winded down in Spokane, the reality that the Terps were heading to the Sweet Sixteen set in. At the point Turgeon was being interviewed with his entire roster ecstatically gathered behind, the trip had been sealed.
Next up: The Terps will take on No. 1 overall seed Kansas (32-4) at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. on Thursday. Kansas is Turgeon’s alma mater.
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