Melo Trimble has had a shaky season shooting the ball and finding consistency, but he found his way against South Dakota State on Friday. Trimble's 19 points on 10 shot attempts helped to propel the Terrapins over the Jackrabbits 79-74, with Trimble scoring 15 of those points in the first half.
In 11 conference games prior, Trimble shot 50 percent or greater just twice, but was able to score efficiently in one of the most important games of career hitting five of his ten.
Though he bricked a few from deep and never found his stroke from distance, going 0-for-4, he worked off screens beautifully and managed to connect on 5-of-6, 2-point shots. Working aggressively he was able to get to the free throw line nine times where he hit net on all of them. He had taken nine attempts in his past four games combined.
His dribble penetration worked to perfection at times. Around the perimeter he was able to find his teammates as well as he set Jake Layman up for a pair behind the arc. He finished with just two assists against three turnovers, but much of that was due to his foul trouble.
He was nicked for his foul just a minute and 24 seconds into the second half, and that sat him for seven extra minutes. Because of those fouls, Trimble played his lowest minutes total since a mid-January in a blowout Ohio State -- save for the game against Bowie State, which barely counts. Maryland was able to handle its first time period without him, but the second almost ended the team's season.
Trimble's first mistake came as he hit with a reach-in foul with 1:45 left in the second half that gave the Jackrabbits a pair of free throws at the line. Then the sophomore made an even bigger mistake.
Up five with a minute and three seconds remaining, he jumped out to defend a 3-point attempt from South Dakota State guard George Marshall. The usually collected Trimble was the opposite, as he clipped Marshall on the wrist. It was a double-whammy, putting Marshall on the line for three foul shots (he'd make all of them) and knocking Trimble from the game for good.
Maryland was able to hold on despite Jaylen Brantley missing one of two later free throws that Trimble would have likely taken in his place, had he not fouled out.
It was closer than it needed to be, but the Terrapins got it done and will move on to face Hawaii in the Round of 32.
Against a tougher opponent the Terps may not be able to hold on, but it's unlikely Trimble puts the team in that position again. The tournament is about surviving and advancing, and Maryland gets a fresh 48 hours to regroup.