Maryland was in a dogfight for the first 30 minutes against Hawaii in their NCAA Tournament game.
However, Sunday’s win was vintage Melo Trimble.
Trimble’s late season struggles were widely documented down the stretch of the 2015-16 season. During a four-game stretch spanning from Feb. 13 to Feb. 27, Trimble connected on just 11 of his 47 field goal attempts (23.4 percent).
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Maryland lost three of those four games. The lone win came against Michigan on Feb. 21 in College Park.
On Senior Night against Illinois, it seemed as though the old Trimble had returned. The former Bishop O’Connell (Va.) star was 7-of-14 from the field and ended up with 18 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in a very complete Maryland win.
In the next two games against Indiana in the season finale and Nebraska in the Big Ten quarterfinals, Trimble remained extremely efficient as he hit 13 of his 30 shots (43.3 percent) and averaged 17.5 points-per-game.
Despite three very productive games, red flags came up once again when Trimble struggled against Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
Trimble made just two of his 15 field goal attempts against the Spartans. While he did finish with 11 points, six came at the free throw line and he did manage to hit a three.
The bleak performance brought Trimble’s play into question once again. Would he be able to shine in the NCAA Tournament when the lights were the brightest?
The star sophomore scored 24 points (5-of-14) while collecting eight rebounds and dishing out three assists. While that’s a solid statistic line, it was Trimble’s basketball IQ that really was impressive.
Trimble made 13 of his 14 attempts at the free throw line. It was the first game that he had been to the charity stripe on double-digit occasions since Maryland fell to Purdue on Feb. 27.
His performance against the Rainbow Warriors reminded everyone of the freshman version of Trimble. If he even sniffed contact coming, Trimble would attack the lane and absorb the contact to get to the line.
It’s also about knowing who is guarding you and this wasn’t more evident than at the end of the first half.
Maryland was trailing Hawaii 27-26 with just five seconds left in the half. Star forward Stefan Jankovic was attempting to defend Trimble in the open court before he even crossed the timeline. As soon as Jankovic made his move for the basketball, Trimble turned right into Jankovic and a foul was called.
Trimble made his way down to the free throw line and connected on a pair of free throws. The timely freebies gave Maryland a 28-27 lead at halftime.
Trimble actually ended up scoring all 10 of his first half points in the final 6:30 of the frame. He also got to the free throw line twice during that span.
When Trimble attempts double-digit free throws, Maryland is 12-3 over the past two seasons. He just has a knack for playing through contact and drawing shooting fouls against opposing teams.
However, it wasn’t all about his ability to get to the free throw line.
Despite Maryland’s horrific three-point shooting performance, Trimble never stopped launching shots from beyond the arc. The Terps missed their first 14 shots from three, but stayed in the game by attacking the paint.
With 9:33 left in the game and Maryland clinging to a four-point lead, Trimble got out in transition and had a choice of whether to hoist up a three or attack the basket.
Despite his success getting to the free throw line throughout the contest, Trimble decided to stop on a dime and launch a three-pointer. The shot went right through the net to give Maryland a 48-41 lead and was part of a 14-0 run.
While many could argue that it was just an aggressive play by Trimble, it may not have been the end of the world if his shot drew iron. Center Diamond Stone made his way right under the basket before the ball even left Trimble’s hands. Unless the ball took an odd bounce, Stone likely would’ve secured the rebound and put it back.
Obviously, we’ll never know, but Trimble made an excellent decision to pull up for the three-point attempt.
Trimble just made play after play on Sunday that made excellent basketball sense. When he was playing a little out of control, he drove his way into the lane and drew contact.
This is a guy that scored 14 second half points and nine of those came at the free throw line.
Despite his struggles at points throughout the season, Trimble remains one of the top point guards in the country. If Maryland wants to knock off No. 1 seed Kansas on Thursday night, vintage Trimble is going to have to be out in full force.