By Ethan Cadeaux (@Ethan_301)
The comeback kids did it again.
Like they have done so many times in this young season, the Terps dug themselves into a hole and found a way out. Maryland was able to overcoming a 12-point deficit and defeat Oklahoma State 71-70.
Trailing by 12 with just over 12 minutes left, the Terps went on a 13-0 run, taking their first lead since they led 1-0. Over the final 12 minutes, the Terps outscored the Cowboys 23-10.
“We were down 12 and they were hitting some tough shots,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “They have a great point guard and we just kept coming.”
The comeback almost fell short, as Cowboys guard Jawun Evans hit a go-ahead layup over Melo Trimble with 21 seconds remaining in the game.
But then Trimble did what he does best. The junior point guard took the ball to the rim and drew a foul. He hit both free throws to give the Terps a 71-70 lead.
The Cowboys had three chances to win in the final seconds, but the third attempt went in after the buzzer.
The Terps were never worried.
“Everybody in our circle, our team, knew we were going to win the game,” Turgeon said.”
Maryland now moves to 8-1 on the season, 6-0 in games decided by six points or less.
While guard play has been dominated by Trimble and freshman Anthony Cowan all season, it was Jaylen Brantley who provided the spark for Maryland Saturday. The junior scored 12 points off the bench and was a difference maker at both ends of the floor. He, perhaps, turned in his best performance in a Maryland uniform to date.
Despite willing out a victory, the shooting woes continued for the Terps. They hit just four three-point shots in 22 attempts, an awful 18 percent. They shot just 41 percent from the field, and 66 percent from the foul line.
Fortunately for Maryland, the defensive picked up when it needed to. During the 13-0 run, Oklahoma State missed nine consecutive shots. The Cowboys didn’t shoot well either. They shot 41 percent on the game, 35 percent in the second half alone.
The Terps had several good looks, but the shots just weren’t falling. Instead, They buckled down on defense, crashed the boards, and willed out a victory.
1. Maryland is now 6-0 in games decided by six points or less.
This team is a resilient bunch, and knows how to win close games. Their will to win has been the bigger than most.
Come conference play, the Terps are going to be in close games frequently. Having plenty of crunch time experience this early in the season will only help the Terps come Big Ten play.
“It’s rare, but it’s what we do,” Turgeon said. “If you look back, we win close games and what is rare about it is that there are three freshman out there. I’m really proud of this group, it is amazing what they keep doing.”
Turgeon has compared this year’s squad to the one of 2014 several times this season. That 2014 squad was 10-0 in games of such margins.
2. The Terps need to shoot better from the free throw line.
It’s already hard enough to win against a team like Oklahoma State, but it’s even harder when the Terps miss 10 free throws.
Cowan missed his first four attempts from the charity stripe, and finished a measly 2-8. The team finished 19-29 from the line, a poor 66 percent.
The Terps still shot 17 more free throws than the Cowboys. When the shots aren’t falling, the Terps are still able to get to the free throw line.
3. Damonte Dodd and Jaylen Brantley were the reason Maryland won Saturday.
Dodd was an impact player on both ends of the floor, scoring 12 points – 10 in the second half – as well as recording three blocks.
“Damonte Dodd’s defense in the second half was great,” Turgeon said.
Brantley provided the energy the Terps needed off the bench, and played his best game of the season.
“He practices hard and he’s a leader,” Turgeon said of Brantley. “He made winning plays. He took my option and he wasn’t afraid. The kid is a flat out winner so I figured out how to play him and we had no chance without him tonight.”