COLLEGE PARK – Down 12 points with less than 13 minutes to go, the Maryland Terrapins were on the cusp of losing their second basketball game in a row. However, the Terps rallied behind a combined 24 points from Jaylen Brantley and Damonte Dodd, and star guard Melo Trimble, who converted three crucial free throws […]
COLLEGE PARK – Down 12 points with less than 13 minutes to go, the Maryland Terrapins were on the cusp of losing their second basketball game in a row.
However, the Terps rallied behind a combined 24 points from Jaylen Brantley and Damonte Dodd, and star guard Melo Trimble, who converted three crucial free throws in the dying moments. Maryland’s late-game dramatics helped pull off the comeback victory over Oklahoma State, 71-70 in front of 17,391 fans at the XFINITY Center.
The victory is Maryland’s (8-1) fifth by six points or less. Coming off their first loss of the season to Pittsburgh on Nov. 29, the Terps were also missing forward Ivan Bender, who was out with a bone bruise.
Maryland surged forward in the second half behind a 13-0 run and held the Cowboys, the second-ranked scoring offense in the nation, without a basket for more than five minutes.
“This group of mine, it is amazing what they do,” Head Coach Mark Turgeon said. “All these young kids playing, they keep battling. They are hitting some tough shots. (Oklahoma State) has a great point guard, but we kept coming. I think everyone in our circle, our team, knew we were going to win the game.”
Maryland’s offense was rattled early by Oklahoma State (6-2), turning the ball over four times and only scoring on two of their first nine shots during the first five minutes of the game. Maryland finished the half committing 12 turnovers and allowed the Cowboys six fast-break points.
“I’m proud of my team,” Oklahoma State Head Coach Brad Underwood said. “I thought we were good in the first half. We took the fight to them, and I thought we were aggressive on the boards.”
Freshman Anthony Cowan provided a spark for the struggling Terrapin offense, scoring nine of his 11 points in the first half. Cowan wove through two defenders for the quick layup, starting a 9-0 run that brought Maryland closer to tying the game.
Oklahoma State went on a 9-2 run of its own in the last three minutes before halftime, extending its lead to eight. Early in the second half, the Cowboys’ Jeffrey Carroll sunk one of his three treys to push Oklahoma State’s lead to 11.
Maryland stuck around, forcing Oklahoma State into 14 turnovers before starting the game-winning run. Cowboys guard Jawun Evans, the team’s leading scorer who averages 24.7 points-per-game, had only 16 points and two second-half turnovers due to Maryland’s pressing defense.
As the second half began to conclude, two converted free throws by freshman Justin Jackson gave Maryland its first lead. Moments later, Brantley out-dribbled two Cowboys defenders and got fouled while scoring on a driving layup. The three-point play put the Terps up by two with three minutes remaining.
Dodd bullied defenders in the paint, collecting eight rebounds and scoring 10 points in the second half. Two thunderous slam dunks contributed to the Maryland comeback, and a tip-in off a missed three-pointer attempt by Brantley increased Maryland’s short lead by four, 68-64, with three minutes to go.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Trimble converted three of his four free throws to put Maryland up by one. The Upper Marlboro native had only 13 points, but the senior provided another clutch moment when his team needed him.
“It was just another day in the office for him,” Brantley said. “We know what to expect from him, and I think everybody in Maryland knows what to expect from him.”
Turgeon said the comeback win is important for the team’s young freshmen to gain confidence playing in tight-game situations before conference and tournament play. The six-year head coach is confident his team can produce against the rest of the competition moving forward.
“If we can defend like that, we are going to give ourselves a chance,” Turgeon said. “When you are 4-of-22 from three, and you miss 10 free throws against a team that averages 98 points, and you still win, you’re doing something right.”