The Maryland men's basketball team snuck away with a 62-56 win over Northwestern on Tuesday night, dropping the Wildcats in a tense overtime game before 17,144 at Xfinity Center.
The Wildcats pulled ahead in the second half after falling behind by 8 points, and Maryland had to dig in to finish off Northwestern in the extra period. Melo Trimble led Maryland with 18 points, followed by Diamond Stone's 11, Robert Carter's 10 and Jake Layman's 8.
The Terps gave up 16 offensive rebounds on their own court, only getting 4 of their own. They also had 16 turnovers to Northwestern's 12 and were, in a host of ways, fortunate not to take their first home loss since 2014.
The win places Maryland at 17-2 and 6-1 in the Big Ten, just in time for what figures to be the regular season's most exciting stretch. The Terps visit Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday, then return to College Park to host Iowa next Thursday. Either game presents a chance for the Terrapins' best win of the season to date.
Maryland spent most of the first half trailing, owed to problems on the defensive glass and a series of turnovers. Northwestern was largely the better team than Maryland, but the Terps' shot 52 percent from the field to the Wildcats' 41 percent, and the result was a 2-point halftime edge for the home team, 31-29.
The Terps managed a bit of separation right at the start of the second half. Maryland scored the first 6 points out of the break to take an 8-point lead and seemed ready to cruise to the finish line, but a very plucky Wildcats team stuck around and pulled even, 41-41, with nine minutes to play, then ahead shortly afterward. That set up a tense closing act.
With Maryland trailing by 2 points, a Layman triple at the 4:43-remaining mark put the Terps ahead, 48-47 and sent the building into a frenzy. After Rasheed Sulaimon missed two shots from the foul line and Bryant McIntosh went 1-of-2 for Northwestern, the game went to its final two minutes at 48-48. Neither team could score any more, with Trimble missing a game-winning look at the buzzer to bring on the overtime period.
In that overtime, Maryland finally pulled through, with Carter and Stone scoring the last 9 points of Maryland's night and pushing the Terps, at last, over the top. Maryland's 16-of-19 output at the foul line ultimately made the difference.
Three things to know
1. Old problems reared their heads. The first half particularly was a disheveled disaster, so it's amazing that Maryland emerged from it relatively unscathed. Maryland lost on the offensive glass, 7 rebounds to 1, and had 9 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The Terps shot well when they actually had the chance, but they looked to have completed as many passes to fans in courtside seats as to players in white jerseys. Mark Turgeon, understandably, wore a furious face.
2. Maryland's struggled inside. It was an unusually poor night for Maryland's front line, which couldn't seal its own boards and also struggled to defend Northwestern freshman center Dererk Pardon, who scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. The Terps' strong post presence on offense and defense is a defining trait, and Maryland was fortunate to win on a night when Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr., while OK, weren't their ordinary selves – at least not until the end of overtime.
3. A narrow escape. It's a win, but it won't wear well on Maryland's NCAA Tournament resume. The Terps probably didn't deserve to win this game on the merits, but they figured something out. That counts for something.