Terps women keep it 100, advance to Big Ten final
MARYLAND 100, MICHIGAN STATE 89
indianapolis — Senior center Brionna Jones was her regular steady presence for fourthranked Maryland during the Big Ten tournament semifinals Saturday night. Then freshman point guard Destiny Slocum put on a shooting exhibition down the stretch.
That inside-outside combination secured the second-seeded Terrapins a berth in the championship game following a 100-89 win against sixth-seeded Michigan State at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Standing in the way of Maryland’s third consecutive Big Ten tournament title is No. 5 seed Purdue, which upset top-seeded Ohio State, 71-60, in the other semifinal.
“Obviously we needed all of the 100 points we got tonight,” Coach Brenda Frese said after Maryland set a tournament record for points in a game. “I thought we were really able to kind of find different runs, who to be able to get the ball to, whether it was Shatori [Walker-Kimbrough], Bri or Destiny late in the second half.”
The victory also was Frese’s 400th at Maryland.
measure. He hoped the game was over.
It wasn’t. He would need to play defense on one final possession, his team’s 63-60 win not sealed until Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges missed his own three-pointer at the buzzer. Trimble was overcome with emotion. Spartans Coach Tom Izzo walked up to Trimble and told him he was proud of him. His teammates mobbed him, and the crowd loudly chanted “One more year!” as Trimble walked back to the tunnel, hoping Trimble will stay in College Park for his senior season rather than declare for the NBA draft.
If he leaves, he gave his home fans the most dramatic send-off possible. And it came on a day in which Maryland (24-7, 12-6 Big Ten) desperately needed his heroics. The Terrapins locked up the No. 3 seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament with the win, clinching a coveted double-bye that will afford Maryland a few more days of rest. It also provided redemption just a week after the Xfinity Center crowd had booed the Terrapins late in a loss to Iowa, their second consecutive setback at home.
“This one just gave us confidence, and we feel relieved now,” said Trimble, who finished with 16 points.
But Trimble’s performance also struck a deeper chord on senior day, including for senior center Damonte Dodd, who afterward reminisced about the legend of Trimble and called him one of the greatest players in program history. Dodd recalled his game- winning three-pointer against Wisconsin in February 2016, which also came after Turgeon had implored Trimble to drive to the basket. And Turgeon himself was choked up during his postgame news conference, struggling to find the words to describe this team’s resilience and the maturation of Trimble.
“Think about where we were before Melo got here. Think about it guys — 17-15, and we’ve won a lot since. I’m just really happy for him. Everything’s on his plate,” Turgeon said.
During a timeout after his team had taken a five-point lead early in the second half, the coach ventured toward midcourt and waved his arms, then pumped his fist and roared toward the crowd, hoping the fans would help his team to a victory in the most important game of the season.
“I saw that. I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I thought he was going to break dance or something,” Dodd said.
Michigan State (18-13, 10-8) played true to its March reputation, finding a way to adjust after Maryland scored on seven consecutive possessions. After freshman Kevin Huerter missed a threepointer, Bridges canned a threepointer on the other end to cut the deficit to five. That began a 9-0 run that eventually helped Michigan State take a 51-50 lead on a threepointer by Cassius Winston with 7:48 remaining.
Though Maryland has developed a dangerous habit of blowing second-half leads, it never looked rattled Saturday. But its frontcourt still struggled to handle Michigan State’s big men in the second half, including center Nick Ward, who finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds.
After the Terrapins took a 58-53 lead with 4:45 remaining on a three-pointer by freshman Justin Jackson (15 points), Ward ripped off five straight points to tie the game, including a three-point play after being fouled by Dodd. Ward later tied it at 60 with 3:11 remaining. But Maryland tightened up defensively, not allowing another score by the Spartans the rest of the way.
Trimble had a chance to score the go-ahead points with 38 seconds remaining, but his runner in the lane was off the mark.
Ward also had a chance to win the game with six seconds remaining, but he couldn’t control a pass underneath the basket. After the ball went out of bounds, Turgeon called a timeout to dial up one more chance for Trimble.
“In money time, their junior, their superstar, not only did he score baskets,” Izzo said, “but he made plays.”
Trimble had delivered one of his first iconic moments in Xfinity Center against Michigan State as a freshman two years ago, when he crossed over Spartans guard Tum Tum Nairn on a three-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer in a January win. It was Nairn who was guarding Trimble again Saturday as he brought the ball up in the final seconds. This time he gave Trimble some space, too much space, and again became an unwilling part of the player’s growing legend.
“I felt in a rhythm,” Melo Trimble said of his game-winning shot for Maryland. He scored 16 points.