Terps women keep it 100, ad­vance to Big Ten fi­nal

MARY­LAND 100, MICHI­GAN STATE 89

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY GENE WANG

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.

JONATHAN NEW­TON/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

“I felt in a rhythm,” Melo Trim­ble said of his game-win­ning shot for Mary­land. He scored 16 points.

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