Melo Trimble nearly set a school freshman record with 31 points as Maryland toughed out a 78-73 victory against a game Arizona State team Monday night. It was originally reported by ESPNU and Maryland that Trimble set the record, but Joe Smith scored 33 in his freshman year vs. Rider. Dez Wells and Jake Layman also scored in double digits for the Terps. Trimble, Richaud Pack, Wells, Layman and Damonte Dodd started for Maryland, and Jon Graham played just one late minute in the game.
Maryland missed their first six shots, but a Damonte Dodd offensive rebound led to Melo Trimble sinking a three for their first points of the game. During their offensive rut, the Terrapins were able to force three turnovers in the first four minutes of the game to keep it close, and got three offensive rebounds (two from Dodd) to give the offense more opportunities to score.
Trimble dominated the first half, scoring 18 points, and got right back to it to start out the second. He hit a three for Maryland's first basket of the period, giving the Terps the lead and followed that up by drawing a foul and hitting both free throws.
Maryland's issues defending the three kept up in the second half. Up four points with under five minutes to play, the Terrapins left two Sun Devil shooters wide open beyond the arc, surrendering their lead. After the Under-4 timeout, Trimble responded with a much-needed three, taking the lead back at 69-68. Arizona State answered back with a three-pointer of their own, and Wells tied the game with a putback off his own missed shot.
With less than a minute left, Wells hit a turn-around shot to give Maryland the 75-73 lead. The Terps were able to put it away with free throws, advancing to the finals of the tournament.
Three things we learned
1. Melo Trimble can take over games if needed. Maryland's offense struggled early on with both Dez Wells and Jake Layman in cold stretches. Wells was one-for-seven in the first half from the floor, while Layman was only able to get off three shots. Enter Melo Trimble, who scored 18 points in the period. Wells ended up recovering for a nice game, but Trimble kept up his pace and helped clinch the victory.
2. There is potential in the front court. Against a strong perimeter defense like Arizona State with a good frontcourt player like Jacobsen, Maryland needed some help from their big guys on the offensive and defensive end end. They got it -- Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky combined for 12 points, eight rebounds (seven offensive) and five blocks, and Cekovsky forced a shot clock violation by standing an opposing player up with a block.
It wasn't all good -- Cekovsky struggled to get off a screen and allowed an easy dunk and had four fouls on the night, but they both appear to have progressed as players in the early season.
3. Maryland faced a tough matchup and won. Arizona has a strong interior presence in Eric Jacobsen and one of the best perimeter defenses in the country. Combine that with some shooting luck and the Sun Devils could have easily run away with this one (and they nearly did). Maryland was able to fight back and grab an important victory, easily showing they're the team with the higher ceiling and doing what they needed to do: move on to face a very stern test in Iowa State.
This was the first challenge of the year for the Terps, and while they didn't necessarily pass with flying colors (especially on the defensive end, giving up 14 of 27 threes), they did pass. Next up, the Cyclones.