The Maryland men's basketball team beat Connecticut Tuesday, 76-66, behind controlled play from its star Melo Trimble and a nationally televised break-out performance from its five-star freshman Diamond Stone.
A late-game scare nearly cost the No. 6 ranked Terrapins, as the Huskies came back from a 16-point first-half deficit, coming within one possession inside of the three minute marker before Maryland was able to pull away with the help of a technical foul call on Huskies coach Kevin Ollie.
Trimble had 25 points, getting to the free throw line as often as usual, hitting 14 of 15 of his attempts, and posted 3 rebounds and 3 assists to anchor the Terrapins to its most impressive on-resume win. Stone nearly missed a double-double with 16 points and 9 rebounds, cleaning up the misses on the offensive side with ease, using his strong body.
Maryland boat-raced Connecticut at the outset. The Terps had a 7-2 lead after 3 minutes, a 15-4 lead after 7 and a 38-22 lead by the half. Mark Turgeon rolled through 11 players in a dominating opening 20 minutes, with both reserve guard Varun Ram and forward Ivan Bender seeing time. But Trimble and Stone ran the show, putting together more than one highlight play and each reaching first-half double figures. Stone's effort, working against the nation's best shot blocker in Connecticut 7-footer Amida Brimah, was especially impressive.
The latter 20 minutes weren't as clean, but the Terps finished the job. Stone slowed down a bit, and the interior defense wasn't as tight, but contribution all-around got the job done. Six Maryland players finished with at least six points, with Jake Layman scrapping together 8 points as the team's third leading scorer.
The Huskies pulled what was a 16-point blowout into a one possession game with just under three minutes to play, behind Daniel Hamilton's 23 points. Maryland missed on a number of defensive rotations, allowing open 3-point shots in crunch time. Things got harry, but Maryland did the job.
Three things to know
1. Diamond Stone put on a show at Madison Square Garden. In front of a horde of NBA scouts the freshman tallied 12 first-half points, looking good with his stroke at the free throw line, hitting 4 of 5. The big man missed a hand-full of tip-ins, but rebounded them nicely.
2. Mark Turgeon played 11 guys in the first half. Ivan Bender was No. 10 and Varun Ram No. 11. Maryland worked itself up a 16-point lead, allowing Mark Turgeon to get creative with his lineups, getting some minutes for the lower half of his rotation. For the Terps, it's important so see what they can get out of Bender, an intriguing freshman, who is sure to find more minutes next season.
3. Big stage, no problem. Maryland doubters wanted to cue-up a brutal few opening minutes against North Carolina to an inability to perform in big games. The Terrapins handled the Huskies through, giving and taking some runs in the second half, getting with-in two possessions at just over 3 minutes left, but Maryland stayed disciplined to knock off its nearly-ranked competition.