Maryland men' basketball star junior guard Melo Trimble scored 20 points -- including two big 3-pointers to help the Terps secure the lead for good down the stretch -- to lead Maryland past Iowa, 84-76, in Iowa City Jan. 19 for a third consecutive Big Ten road win.
Freshman guard Anthony Cowan (15 points), Freshman forward Justin Jackson (12), senior forward Damonte Dodd (10) and junior guard Jaylen Brantley (10) were also significant contributors to the victory. The Terps (17-2, 5-1 in the Big Ten) jumped out to an 8-0 lead to start the contest and took a 41-32 lead into halftime, though nine first-half turnovers kept the Terps from stretching out the lead.
Maryland was effective in working into the paint during the first half, either via crisp ball movement against Iowa' s zone -- mostly a 2-3, but also a 1-3-1 late in the half -- or screen-and-rolls when Iowa went man-to-man. The Terps assisted on 14 on their 16 made field goals in the first half, with Dodd (eight points in the half) and Bender (six points) often on the receiving end. Maryland' s ball movement also led to open 3-pointers during the first half; junior guard/forward Jared Nickens, freshman forward Kevin Huerter and Brantley drained one 3-pointer apiece, while Trimble hit two.
Maryland began the second half by getting out to a 47-33 lead courtesy of two baskets by Cowan and a Dodd dunk assisted by Trimble. But Iowa gradually cut into the lead throughout most of the half, finally tying the contest at 66 with just less than six minutes to go and taking a 69-66 lead with 4:38 remaining.
Iowa was more active on the defensive end for much of the second half compared to the first, when the Hawkeyes' zone was fairly static. Iowa was also crashing the offensive glass and generating second-chance points at will; the Hawkeyes had 20 offensive boards for the game and 13 came in the second half, with Dodd missing large chunks due to foul trouble. Iowa' s Tyler Cook and Ahmad Wagner were both particularly active on the offensive glass.
But Maryland's 3-point shooting -- the Terps were 11-for-23 from three for the game -- won the game in crunch time. When Iowa took a 69-66 lead, Nickens immediately hit a 3-pointer to tie the game again with 4:17 remaining. When the Hawkeyes re-gained a three-point lead, Trimble tied the game at 72 with 3:01 remaining. One possession later, another Trimble 3-pointer gave the Terps a 75-72 lead with 2:42 left, and Maryland didn't look back.
More notes from Maryland's victory at Iowa:
- Though much of the discussion around the Terps this year has focused on their three outstanding freshmen -- and deservedly so -- Trimble has still been the top crunch-time scoring option and tends to come through. Trimble was 6-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 from three for the night, but his last two 3-pointers flipped the second half script in cold blooded fashion.
On the final three, a wide open Trimble called for the ball on the wing as Iowa' s defense was swung toward the opposite wing, where Huerter had the ball. Huerter passed inside to Bender, who quickly found Cowan atop the key, and Cowan completed the tic-tac-toe by finding Trimble for an open shot.
- Maryland closed on an 18-7 run after it fell behind, 69-66, with 4:38 remaining. Maryland's defense was vital to the run; Iowa had four straight empty possessions after Trimble tied the game at 72. And it was a defensive play by Bender that salted the game away. With the score 79-74 in Maryland's favor, Bender challenged Iowa' s Peter Jok while defending a ball screen and stole the ball away from Jok with 46 seconds left, which eventually led to free throws for Trimble.
- Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery used a 2-3 zone quite a bit, along with a typical man-to-man look, and even dabbled with a 1-3-1 zone. The Terps handled Iowa' s zone well for the most part outside of a chunk of the second half when the Hawkeyes were active defensively. The Terps shot 56.6 percent from the floor and finished with 23 assists on 30 made field goals; Maryland has the passers to beat a zone, and showed it against Iowa.
- Junior forward Michal Cekovsky missed his sixth straight game with an injured left ankle, and Dodd was in foul trouble all night. That meant Bender played 21 minutes at center, and he came through to the tune of six points, eight boards, an assist and the key steal to clinch the win. Dodd fouled out with 3:37 remaining, so Bender played the balance of the game at the five and held up nicely.
- Brantley again provided a nice spark off the bench, scoring 10 points and drilling two 3-pointers. A half-court offense is typically bound to go stale at some point during road games in Big Ten play, and often it's a shooter off the bench who can get a team back into a rhythm.
- Maryland's freshmen were again terrific, with Cowan playing 31 minutes, Huerter 30 and Jackson 28. Cowan continues to play downhill toward the rim, which is effective given his quickness, while Jackson is becoming more of a threat as an interior scorer after starting the season red-hot from 3-point range.
Cowan had 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting and added six boards, six assists and three steals. Jackson had 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting and also posted nine boards, four assists, six steals and two blocks. All three freshmen were well-regarded recruits, but it was probably impossible for anyone to expect them to display the diverse skillsets and poise they've shown -- not to mention how well they complement one another.
- The biggest disappointment for Maryland was probably its 21 turnovers; Cowan was credited with eight and Trimble, four. The Terps gave away possessions in the first half with unforced errors that hurt their chances of truly pulling away, and sloppiness on the offensive end made it easier for the Hawkeyes to catch up in the second half.
- Maryland' s next game is home against Rutgers at 7 p.m. Jan. 24. The Scarlet Knights began their season 11-1 against a soft nonconference schedule, but have lost seven straight games and their first six of Big Ten play.