Maryland basketball was seconds away from capturing its first win over a ranked opponent in No. 23 Purdue on Saturday, but the Boilermakers won, 73-72, on two last-second free throws from Carsen Edwards.
The game didn’t quite end when Edwards nailed his two attempts from the stripe, however, as some last-second drama gave Maryland one last shot. The Terps got the ball to their best shooter, but Kevin Huerter’s three at the buzzer was just off and just late. Maryland drops to 20-3 on the season.
This was a game fans had circled on their schedules from the beginning of the season. The crowd in College Park was at its loudest and fullest. All 17,950 in attendance were treated to a game that stayed close until the finish, and it almost ended with a Terrapin victory.
Maryland got off to a hot start, as Justin Jackson and Huerter nailed three-pointers to help spur the Terps to an 11-2 start. After Purdue got back into it with a 6-0 run, Anthony Cowan hit a fast-break And-1 layup to snap that streak. Carsen Edwards paced Purdue with six points in the first nine minutes after the Boilermakers’ slow start.
Purdue still stormed back to make it a one-point game on a Dakota Mathias three, and briefly took a one-point lead before Maryland went back ahead. Michal Cekovsky kept it at 36-34 going into halftime with a thunderous block of Carsen Edwards.
Cekovsky preserves Maryland’s lead going into the half. pic.twitter.com/3jX0o2ngjy— Big Ten Geeks (@bigtengeeks) February 4, 2017
Purdue started the second half strong with layups from Swanigan and Haas, but that’s when Melo Trimble, Kevin Huerter and the rest of Maryland’s offense came alive. The Terps’ junior guard and freshman wing scored 24 of their 33 points in the final 20 minutes, helping their team outlast a strong Boilermaker run.
Maryland, again in customary fashion, got out to a 12-point lead with 13 minutes left, then went on a four-minute scoreless streak that allowed Purdue right back in it. Maryland could only hold Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan in check for so long, and he tossed in 17 of his 26 points in the second half.
The Boilermakers got within one point on two occasions, but Maryland battled back each time. They finally pushed through to take a 60-58 lead with six minutes left, but Melo Trimble hit seven free throws over three separate trips to the line to get the Terps back in the lead.
Purdue didn’t go quietly, however, and traded two-point leads with Maryland down the stretch. The Terps went ahead 69-66 on free throws from Michal Cekovsky, but Swanigan hit a three a minute later to make it 70-69. After missing a layup, Trimble made enough contact to draw Swanigan’s fifth foul, so Purdue had to make it the last 56 seconds without its best player.
After Trimble front-rimmed a midrange shot, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards drove and drew a foul from Maryland’s Justin Jackson. He hit his shots at the line, and that proved to be enough. The Terps threw the ball to Purdue’s Isaac Haas, who then traveled and gave Huerter one last chance.
Three things to know
- Caleb Swanigan is really good. Michal Cekovsky and Damonte Dodd have erased prominent Big Ten big men before (see: Kaminsky, Frank), and did a solid job on Purdue’s Player of the Year contender. Cekovsky had six blocks in only 13 minutes and Dodd added four. They shut down Swanigan at times, but the all-conference shoe-in still got his before fouling out in the final minute.
- Purdue looks more like its No. 12 KenPom ranking than its No. 23 AP ranking. The Boilermakers gave the Terps everything they could handle, especially down low.
Melo Trimble was deadly from the line down the stretch. The Terps needed all they could get from Trimble, who scored 16 of his 22 points after halftime. In addition to his usual double-clutch layups, Trimble made 14 of 15 shots at the foul line.