By Megan Smedley
Maryland had everything in its favor. Practically home court advantage. No need to travel. A previous win over Northwestern. A boisterous crowd that Melo Trimble called the crowd “best we’ve seen all year.”
And yet it wasn’t enough. Maryland fell to Northwestern 72-64 ending the Terps hope of winning a Big Ten title in their backyard.
Maryland came out with all of the momentum, quickly jumping out to a first half lead. Picking up where he left off, Melo Trimble was ready to play, driving to the rim for an open layup. Trimble scored a career-high 32 points in the previous matchup between the teams in February. Kevin Huerter sunk a three-pointer, as the shot-clock expired further electrifying the crowd.
But that momentum would quickly run out. Halfway through the first, Northwestern broke out on a 10-0 run during a nearly four minute scoring drought for the Terps. Melo Trimble was unable to get to the rim as easily as he had done in their previous meeting,
“Everyone collapsed whenever I went to the basket,” said Trimble. “They just tried to put a lot of hands up, tried to take charges, tried to find a way to affect me.”
Scottie Lindsey lead the charge for the Wildcats with a jumper and a three-pointer, forcing Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon to call a timeout.
Right out of the timeout with a quick rebound, Huerter was able to dodge defenders for the smooth layup. Anthony Cowan hit a quick three, regaining the momentum for the Terps. Then, Trimble lunged for a steal, passing to Huerter for another long three.
With less than two minutes in the half, Huerter stole the ball allowing Trimble to do what he does best. Driving to the rim and causing his defender to face plant in the process, Trimble sunk a layup to tie up the game at 34.
Smart thinking from the Terps allowed them to remain in possession for the final minute of the half. Trimble dribbled down the shot clock before attempting a three. Despite the miss, Huerter grabbed the rebound, allowing the Terps to finish out the half. A couple of quick passes, some a little unnerving, resulted in Huerter tossing to L.G. Gill for a last second jumper to end the half. At the half, Maryland led by 36-34.
Maryland came out with just as much momentum in the second half starting with a 10-2 run. Cowan drilled a three from the corner with Melo Trimble driving to the rim shortly there after. However, back-to-back shot clock violations by the Terps gave Northwestern all the momentum they needed to make it a three-point game. Kevin Huerter tried to end the momentum change with a jumper but Scottie Lindsey had other plans. Lindsey sunk a wide open three nearly silencing the Verizon Center crowd. Scottie Lindsey ended with 17 points on 7-12 shooting. Isiah Brown’s jumper tied the game at 46 with less than 12 minutes left to play.
Maryland struggled to regain moment throughout the middle of the half. The team went on a five minute scoring drought committing five turnovers and allowing Northwestern to retake the lead and they never looked back. Northwestern’s six-point lead came on an 11-0 run by the Wildcats. Coach Turgeon said the offense lapsed, allowing Northwestern to take control.
“We just weren’t cutting hard enough, trying to score out of what we were doing,” said Turgeon. “We were just kind of going through the motions a little bit…I mean, just couldn’t find any consistency with our offense.”
With five minutes left to go, Kevin Huerter swiped the ball tossing it to Trimble halfway down the court for a typical Trimble layup. Yet, missed foul calls and sloppy turnovers expanded Northwestern’s lead to nine with three minutes left to play.
Maryland’s shot went cold even with Dererk Pardon, Northwestern’s leading rebounder, fouling out. Verizon Center quietly exited out as thousands of Terps fans left in disbelief. The rest of the game didn’t matter; it was clear the Terps were done. Last minute efforts by Kevin Huerter weren’t enough as Northwestern ran down the clock taking a shot clock violation in the process.
Huerter finished with 19 points on 8-15 shooting. Trimble was a point ahead of him finishing with 20 points and a team leading six rebounds. Maryland struggled under the net, getting outrebounded 32-24, in part due to foul trouble from Damonte Dodd and Ivan Bender.
Kevin Huerter said the team has to refocus for the potential tournament run.
“We just have to try to forget about this game,” Huerter said. “We didn’t execute offensively. But we got to try to get past it, move on, realize that there’s still great things for us to do hopefully.”
While Maryland is out of the Big Ten Tournament, their postseason hopes are still alive. The Terps will find out their NCAA Tournament seeding on Sunday night. The Big Ten Tournament continues at Verizon Center throughout the weekend.