Feature photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.
When chatter of Melo Trimble’s shooting struggles found the point guard’s ears, he made the Wildcats pay.
Trimble was 3-of-22 from three in the five games leading up to the showdown with Northwestern, a recent topic of conversation for media and fans. After finishing through contact at the rim with 2.4 seconds remaining in the first half, Trimble stared down the crowd and lifted a finger to his lips.
Trimble finished with career-high 32 points, carrying Maryland to a crucial 74-64 road win over Northwestern Wednesday night.
“Everyone was talking about how he couldn’t make a shot,” Mark Turgeon told the Big Ten Network at halftime. “Everyone pissed him off, so he came to play tonight.”
In the midst of a career night, Trimble’s made free throw on an and-1 gave Maryland a 20-point lead with seven and a half minutes remaining. But the Terps let the Wildcats claw back into the game, making just three more shots the rest of the way.
The Terps’ offensive struggles in the game’s final minutes allowed Northwestern to close the gap. The home team came within nine points with a minute and a half left after Kevin Huerter fouled Vic Law on a 3-pointer and Northwestern’s sophomore forward made all three free throws. The Wildcats got as close at eight before free throws from Anthony Cowan and Damonte Dodd secured Maryland’s win.
Maryland started the game as it finished it: cold. After making three of its first four shots, the Terps missed six straight until L.G. Gill sunk a corner jumper to end the drought. Fortunately for Maryland, Northwestern was worse.
The Wildcats missed 13 of their first 15 shots, ending the game’s first 10 minutes shooting 13 percent from the field. Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern’s point guard who averaged more than 22 points per game in his last four outings, picked up two fouls in the game’s first four minutes, sending him to the bench early.
Once Northwestern started getting shots to fall, though, so did Trimble.
Maryland’s point guard made a triple and two layups on three consecutive possessions midway through the opening half, flying through the air like an acrobat on his finishes. It was only the beginning of his takeover.
After Damonte Dodd opened the half with a slam, Trimble made four of Maryland’s next five baskets. The third one, a 3-pointer with Sanjay Lumpkin’s hand obscuring his vision, put Welsh-Ryan Arena to sleep.
When Trimble scored his 32rd point, no other Terp was in double figures. As Northwestern slowly chipped at the lead and Trimble’s hot-hand faded, Maryland needed someone to step up.
Turgeon called a timeout with under five minutes remaining after Isiah Brown drilled a triple to cut the lead to 64-52. With the arena waking up and Northwestern enthused, Turgeon knew he needed something to tame the Wildcats.
Justin Jackson received the ball on the right wing, his teammates quarantining him with an unlucky Wildcat. Jackson dribbled right and held the ball in front of him before stopping with his legs spread apart. He flicked the rock between his gait and gathered a pace behind, leaving his defender dizzy. With his newfound space, Jackson drilled a jumper, extending the lead to 14 and calming down his team.
But the Wildcats wouldn’t give in. Five-straight points brought them within single digits for the first time all half. Anthony Cowan was sent to the line six times in the game’s second-to-last minute to salt away Maryland’s seventh road victory. He swished five, enough for the Terps to hold on.
The win improves Maryland to 24-4 (10-3) and keeps the team within striking distance of Wisconsin for the Big Ten title. The Terps are one game behind the Badgers and will have their chance to take the top spot this weekend. Maryland plays No. 11 Wisconsin in Madison Sunday at 1 p.m., the teams’ only scheduled meeting of the season.
Edited by Joe Catapano.
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