There have been some great games in Maryland’s basketball history.
However, Diamond Stone had a game for the ages on Wednesday against Penn State.
Prior to Wednesday, Stone had scored in double figures in all but three games (16 points was his highest total). His previous highest rebounding total was nine, which came against Connecticut on Dec. 8.
Much to the Nittany Lions dismay, the Milwaukee native shattered his previous career highs as he scored 39 points (10-of-15) and grabbed 12 rebounds. The monster evening was the first double-double of his young Maryland career.
“He (Stone) was terrific,” Turgeon said. “You just want to get him close to the rim. He has a big body and he can kind of wedge them a little bit. He’s not always explosive, but he was able to get the angles that he needed to score.”
His 39-point effort broke Joe Smith‘s previous record of 33 points, which came against Rider in Nov. 1993.
One of the most impressive aspects of Stone’s record-setting night was his ability to get to the free-throw line. The former five-star recruit connected on 19 of his 25 attempts from the charity stripe.
The previous high for free throws made was Tom McMillen, who scored 17 points at the line against Canisius on Dec. 17, 1971. The previous high for free throws attempted was set by Keith Booth, who put up 24 shots at the line against George Washington on Dec. 9, 1996.
Stone made his living at the free-throw line due to his ability to make plays on the offensive glass. The freshman reeled in eight of his 12 rebounds on the offensive end.
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His brute strength allowed him to out-muscle the Penn State frontcourt, and get to the line and even some second-chance points.
Stone was also able to be so successful on the offensive end because of guard Melo Trimble.
It’s no secret that Trimble is one of the most gifted passers in the college ranks. However, the former Bishop O’Connell (Va.) star had incredible chemistry with Stone against Penn State, especially in the second half.
“Diamond (Stone) had 39,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “Of course, Melo (Trimble) had a lot to do with that, whether it was assisting him or getting to the rim. If Melo missed shots, Diamond would follow them up.”
Five of Trimble’s game-high six assists were on baskets that were converted by Stone. Whether Stone was streaking down the floor in transition or waiting for a drop pass from Trimble, the duo was in sync throughout the night.
“Melo is a great point guard,” Stone said. “He’s probably the best point guard I’ve ever played with. He sees the floor and has great vision. He hits open shots. He’s really the key to our team.”
Perhaps the most impressive play that Stone made all night was in the second when he was able to step in front of a Josh Reaves pass and finish right in front of Reaves at the rim.
“It was a pretty amazing play for him,” Turgeon added. “It really got us going and cut the lead to six. We all started believing at that point.”
It ended up being a huge play for the Terps, who were trailing by nine points before Stone’s spectacular finish. The highlight reel play plus the ensuing free throw, were part of an 11-2 run for Maryland that ultimately allowed them to tie the game.
Coming to College Park, Stone was projected by several national pundits as a lottery pick, and Wednesday’s game was an indicator of just how special a player he could be. Stone had one of the more special games that Maryland fans have seen in the last 20 years.
Stone was one of just four Big Ten players to have at least 35 points and 10 rebounds over the last 20 years. The others were Robbie Hummel (Purdue, 35 & 10), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State, 40 & 13), and Alando Tucker (Wisconsin, 38 & 10).
“I knew I was in the zone,” Stone added. “I just wanted to win. I just figured that if I kept being aggressive, that we could take the lead and that’s what happened.”