Fresh off a big win over fifth-ranked Wisconsin that saw the students storm the court after the final horn, the fourteenth-ranked Maryland Terrapins were looking to send its eight seniors out with a win over Michigan in their final home game at Xfinity Center on Feb. 28.
Melo Trimble scored 19 points and dished out five assists, and senior Dez Wells added 13 points and six rebounds to lead Maryland (24-5, 12-4 Big Ten) to a 66-56 win over Michigan (14-14, 7-9 Big Ten). The Terps jumped out to a 7-2 lead four and a half minutes into the game, but the Wolverines responded with a 7-0 run over the next two minutes to take a 9-7 lead. That was the first of nine lead changes in the first half. After Ricky Doyle of Michigan scored on an offensive rebound to give Maryland a 21-18 lead with just under five minutes left in the first half, the Terps closed out the half with a 12-0 run. Jake Layman hit a three to tie the game. Two possessions later, Richaud Pack made a three to give Maryland the lead again, 24-21 with just over two and a half minutes left, and Wells scored on an offensive rebound to give Maryland a five-point lead. Michigan called a timeout in the midst of a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd of 17,950. Trimble then capped the run by swishing a three with just under 30 seconds left to give the Terps a 30-21 lead at halftime.
Michigan started the second half on a 7-2 run. That was answered by a pair of threes from Jared Nickens off the bench to give Maryland a 41-32 lead with just under 14 minutes left. The Wolverines continued to hang around, as Zak Irvin made all three free throws after being fouled while attempting a three, and Spike Albrecht made a three to cut Maryland’s lead to 43-40 with 8:40 left. Trimble gave Maryland a little more breathing room by connecting on two straight threes, and then made three free throws after being fouled while shooting a three to give the Terps a 54-44 lead with just over five minues left. Layman and Wells then hit threes on back-to-back trips to extend the lead to 12 with three and a half minutes left. Wells then found a cutting Layman for a dunk, and Layman intercepted an entry pass for an exclamation point. Varun Ram, Trevor Barks, Jacob Susskind, Jon Graham and senior walk-on Trevor Anzmann entered to a standing ovation with 36 seconds left for a chance to close out their careers, resisting calls from the crowd to shoot.
Maryland shot 44.7 percent from the floor, including 50 percent from three-point range, while holding the Wolverines to 36.5 percent from the floor and 23.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Terrapins finished the season undefeated at home (9-0) in Big Ten play. Head Coach Turgeon made it a point to thank the seniors for the time and effort they’ve put into the program.
“A lot of the seniors played well for us; got everybody in, and we finished 9-0 in the league, which is pretty hard to do…I’m 99.9 percent sure this is my first team in 17 years that’s gone undefeated in league play at home,” Turgeon said, adding that he no longer tries to control Senior Day like he did in the past.
“I used to try to orchestrate everything on Senior Day, and as I got a little bit older, you can’t…things gotta happen,” Turgeon said. He praised the seniors as “a great group of guys that are good leaders that always put the team first.” While Evan Smotrycz didn’t have a big day scoring, Turgeon said the Michigan transfer was the only one who could solve the Wolverines’ zone defense.
“We tried Dez, we tried different guys in there, and finally we had the right lineup and went with Evan, we put Evan in there, and he was just dialing it up,” Turgeon said of Smotrycz, who while he only scored one point, had nine rebounds and four assists. Turgeon credited him for his passing and reversing of the ball against the zone, along with ball fakes and defense. Wells was happy that the seniors were able to go out with a win on Senior Day.
“I’m glad we got the win, because that’s something we’ll all remember 10, 15 years from now,” said Wells, who feels that he’s become more mature, and more secure and comfortable with himself, both as a person and a basketball player during his three years with the Terrapins. He said his teammates also helped him grow and find ways to challenge himself and become a better player. Michigan head coach John Beilein praised Maryland for how they play the game.
“I really love Maryland’s team,” Beilein said. “They have a thing you don’t find a lot today, with four or five seniors that all they want to do is win. They have a great plan. They guard you just well enough, and they have a lot of people that can put points on the board. I watched them share the ball and throw the ball around to each other, and it’s good for college basketball, and they’re a great representation of how you should play the right way.” Beilein said he hopes Maryland’s fans appreciate the way their team plays.
Before the game, Smotrycz, Wells, Pack, Ram, Jon Graham, Barks and Susskind were joined on the court by their families and were presented with their jerseys in frames. Smotrycz, Graham, Pack and Wells were all in the starting lineup. As part of the pregame ceremonies, the senior band members and cheerleaders were recognized. Dr. Lowell Richmond Sparks, the director of the pep band, was also honored during pregame ceremonies. He’s retiring after 30 years with the band.
Notes: Turgeon said the team was emotionally spent following the Feb. 24 win over Wisconsin, and after coming out from the locker room, came out flat early on against Michigan. He revealed that freshman center Michal Cekovsky hurt his knee during pregame warmups, and will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
During the first media timeout in the second half, the family of late Maryland legend Len Bias was honored as the M club’s Honorary Captain of the Game.