The Maryland basketball team has thrived in close games all season.
That trend continued on Tuesday evening as the Terrapins topped Ohio State in a hard-fought 77-71 win in Columbus. The win gave Maryland their best start in program history.
Forward Justin Jackson turned in another marvelous performance as he scored a game-high 22 points (8-of-12 shooting) and grabbed 12 rebounds. He became the first Maryland player to record back-to-back double since Jordan Williams did it during the NCAA Tournament in 2010.
Guard Melo Trimble added 13 points and four assists while Anthony Cowan had 11 points and five assists.
Despite trailing by double digits in the second half, the Buckeyes never surrendered and clawed their way back into the game. With 2:35 left, Cowan fouled reserve guard C.J. Jackson as Jackson grabbed a miss loose ball.
Jackson connected on both free throws to make it just a one-point Maryland lead at 70-69.
On the other end of the floor, Cowan found Trimble beyond the arc after the Buckeyes were scrambling for the ball. Trimble drilled his shot to put the Terps up four.
That was Trimble’s only make from three in six attempts on Tuesday.
Senior Marc Loving answered on Ohio State’s ensuing possession with a jumper from just behind the free throw line. Loving scored 18 points for the Buckeyes, but that was the last time that they would score.
After the two teams traded missed shots from in close, Trimble had the basketball with under a minute to go. With 34 seconds remaining, he got some help from a Ivan Bender screen, which forced Ohio State’s Jae’Sean Tate to step up and guard Trimble.
Trimble immediately drove with Tate on him and converted a difficult arcing layup to make it a 75-71 contest. The junior guard nailed a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to seal the Maryland victory.
Maryland only made three of their 10 long-range shots in the second half. However, they still shot 38.5 percent (10-of-26) and Trimble’s was by far the biggest conversion.
The Terps did start off the game looking like a well-oiled machine.
Maryland hit four of their first six shots, including threes from Kevin Huerter and Jackson. The Terps jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first three minutes.
Ohio State battled back and even managed to hold a 19-16 lead with 11:11 left in the first half. Maryland did retake the lead, but never led by more than six points.
The Terps took a 42-36 advantage into the break.
The second half began much like the first as Maryland connected on three of their first four shots. Maryland led by as many as 10 points during the first 10 minutes of the second half before Ohio State made it a ballgame.
Despite being underdogs in yet another Big Ten contest, the Terps were tested, but ultimately came through with another impressive win. Their 20-2 start has been needed to stay at the top of the Big Ten with Wisconsin playing so well.
Maryland will get another tough test on Saturday afternoon when No. 23 Purdue comes to College Park.