By: Joe Catapano
Melo Trimble waited patiently for his time to drive on the opening possession of the second half Tuesday night against former ACC foe, Pittsburgh. But as Trimble finally made his move to the basket, he drew contact and fell to the ground. Instead of a blocking foul, the referees signaled for a travel. Head coach Mark Turgeon gave a ref an earful of dissatisfaction, while loud “boos” filled the entirety of the XFINITY Center.
While it was just the first possession of the second half, the play epitomized the difference between this game and the Terps’ previous two, in which they won in dramatic comeback fashion. For the first time all season, Maryland didn’t walk away as victors, falling 73-59 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.
“We let our offense affect our defense in the first half,” Turgeon said. “[Pittsburgh] was great.”
Maryland exited the halftime locker room down 21 points and in familiar territory. While the Terrapins have played many of their games from behind until the final seconds, the deficit was too large, even for Maryland’s standards.
Although the Terrapins opened up an 11-7 lead behind freshman Justin Jackson’s hot start, the Panthers dominated the remainder of the first half on a 38-13 run and on 67 percent shooting.
Pittsburgh’s Jamel Artis and Michael Young tore up the Maryland defense for 47 combined points. Artis, a Baltimore native, finished with 22 points, while Young torched the Terrapins for 25.
“[Artis] got going, and then their whole team got going,” Turgeon said. “They were loose as a goose in the first half.”
Poor shooting, in addition to 16 Pittsburgh points off 10 Maryland turnovers, led to the lopsided 45-24 halftime score. The Terrapins, after starting 3-of-4 from 3-point range, finished the rest of the half just 1-of-12 from behind the arc.
“[Turgeon] said to keep shooting and if they close out hard on [us], to drive it to the rim and try to get a foul,” forward Damonte Dodd said. “We just keep telling our shooters to keep shooting because they were going to get open looks.”
But after winning many of its seven wins from behind, Maryland predictably did not go down without a fight in the second half.
The Terrapins held Pittsburgh to just 25.9 percent shooting in the second half as Maryland slowly crawled from 25 points down back to just eight with less than four minutes left to play. Even though the crowd had the energy to come alive late, after playing its third game in five days, Maryland did not have that same energy left in the tank.
With a chance to sink two free throws to make it a two-score game, freshman Anthony Cowan missed the front-end of a 1-and-1.
Trimble, who averages over 21 points per game, scored just 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting and only visited the free-throw line four times. Although Maryland had limited time to prepare for Pittsburgh, Trimble did not contribute any fatigue to the result.
“We love the game so I don’t think fatigue was a factor,” Trimble said. “We just couldn’t hit shots and they played well.”
Maryland (7-1) now has almost four full days to rest and prepare for Oklahoma State (5-1), who comes to College Park this Saturday for a 9 p.m. game.