Tortoise avoids the scare: Maryland summons late-game heroics to upend Hoyas

November 16, 2016

Photo: Tyler Pearre

It was another Tuesday night shocker in D.C. After an almost inexplicable turn of events, Maryland (2-0, Big Ten) junior guard Melo Trimble stood at the free throw line down by one with eight seconds left, ahead of him two shots and the chance to snatch a seemingly-sure victory from Georgetown (1-1, Big East). He sunk both.

A series of Georgetown mistakes led to that critical moment, including junior guard Tre Campbell stepping out of bounds in the backcourt and junior guard LJ Peak fouling out with 7.8 seconds remaining, which allowed Trimble to make the two free throws that gave the Terps that game-deciding 76-75 lead.   

Trimble led the Terps to victory in front of a packed, but divided, crowd at the Verizon Center. The proximity of the College Park campus meant that the University of Maryland fanbase could be heard loud and clear throughout the Hoyas’ home arena. The typical “let’s go Georgetown” chants which normally fill the Verizon Center were, at points, drowned out by “let’s go Maryland” roars. With the Maryland crowd cheering him on, Trimble put up 22 points against the Hoyas, including a crucial layup to cut Georgetown’s lead to one point just before he drew the foul that set up the pair of decisive free throws.

“They expected us to foul,” Trimble said of the final moments of the game. “But we played smart. They turned it over twice, and we capitalized.”

In referring to those who expected a Terrapins foul, Trimble could have been talking not only about the Hoyas, but also about Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon, who was screaming from the sidelines to foul as Georgetown inbounded the ball up by one. Whether it was the crowd noise or an on-the-court decision by the Terrapins players, Trimble and his teammates chose not to, and that decision paid off in the ensuing Georgetown collapse.

Foul shots played a key role throughout the game, although it was the Hoyas who would benefit the most from this. By the end of a first half that left the game tied at 31, Georgetown shot just 29.2 percent from the field but 88.9 percent from the free throw line, where they scored 16 of their 31 points. In comparison, Maryland shot 37.9 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from the line with just five points off of foul shots. By the end of the game, both Georgetown and Maryland combined for 56 fouls, 32 of which were on Maryland. Turgeon even picked up a technical foul after a confrontation with the referees.

“I felt bad for the team,” Turgeon said of his technical. “I felt like I let them down. In the end, we kept playing, and we got lucky. I think a lot of our fouls were because Georgetown has such good players.”

For the Hoyas, there were some positives to take away on offense, despite the deflating seven point collapse that gave Maryland the win. Georgetown had four players with double digit points by the end of the game, including a double-double from junior forward Isaac Copeland — the first of his career — who went just 3-14 from field goal range but 7-8 from the free throw line as he put up 13 points and 13 rebounds on the night.

Photo: Tyler Pearre

LJ Peak led the Hoyas with 21 points on 5-8 from field goal range and 10-12 from the line. Coming off of a 32-point game against USC Upstate, graduate student guard Rodney Pryor finished the night with only 14 points, six rebounds, and five turnovers, but did shoot 3-6 from three-point range, one of which gave the Hoyas a six-point lead with just over eight minutes to play. Sophomore center Jessie Govan rounded out the double digit scorers for Georgetown with 12 points and three rebounds along with two three-pointers, the second of which put the Hoyas firmly in control with an eight-point lead and 4:48 left in the second half.

“It’s hard to find something positive,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said after the game. “But I think we played well over long stretches [of the game]. We have to grow. We have to get better. We have to learn from our mistakes.”

For Maryland, Trimble led the team with his 22 points on 7-13 from field goal range, but the Terps also saw critical play from freshman forward Justin Jackson and guard Anthony Cowan. Jackson had 17 points and seven rebounds on 7-12 shooting and 3-5 from beyond the arc. Cowan picked up 11 points and five rebounds on 3-8 from the field and 5-5 from the line.

While John Thompson III was complimentary of both the offensive and defensive play by Maryland, he did feel that Georgetown let the game slip away.

“We put them in a position to win that game,” Thompson said in his opening remarks at the post-game press conference.

There’s also uncertainty as to whether the historic D.C. rivalry will continue. When asked about any future matchups between Georgetown and Maryland, Thompson said, “We’ll talk. We’ll see. It was good.”

The Hoyas will look to rebound from their first loss of the season when they take on Arkansas State tomorrow at 6:30pm in McDonough Arena. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.


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