It came down to the final ticks as the 17th ranked Maryland Terrapins lost a tightly contested game — including five second-half lead changes — to the 23rd ranked Purdue Boilermakers, 73-72.
With 2.1 seconds remaining Maryland, down one point, sent a long inbound pass soaring over the outstretched hands of center Damonte Dodd (9 points, 5 offensive rebounds and 4 blocks), and into the grasp of Purdue center Isaac Haas. Haas caught the ball and walked without dribbling. A referee called a travel, presenting a final chance for the Terps.
After a timeout, with 0.5 seconds remaining, guard Jared Nickens stood on the baseline holding the ball for a few short seconds before finding guard Kevin Huerter who caught it and released a fade-away jumper from the corner. The shot clanked off the iron along with Maryland’s hope of winning.
“That was the play that was drawn up, for me to get a shot, and before I knew it, I had to get it off quick,” Huerter said. “Thinking about it right now, I’m not mad that I missed, I didn’t shoot it the way I wanted to, it didn’t feel like the [other] shots.”
Maryland, led by Melo Trimble (22 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds), was able to get to the free throw line down the stretch, but was held scoreless from the field for the last eight minutes of the game.
“They just missed. It wasn’t our defense. They just missed some open ones,” Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter said. “We are very, very fortunate.”
Turgeon saw it differently. “They were great defensively and we couldn’t make a jump shot,” he said.
Maryland played tough defense against a strong Purdue team that boasts the likes of 7-foot-2 Haas and 6-foot-9 forward Caleb Swanigan (26 points, 10 rebounds) – the Terps produced 10 blocks and held the Boilermakers to 38.1 percent shooting on the night.
“Swanigan’s numbers, they are what they are,” Huerter said. “We thought our bigs played really well on them. It seemed like every single possession (Purdue) got a post touch and they had to play one-on-one defense on them.”
Junior center Michal Cekovsky was a force to be reckoned with in the post defensively with six blocks – a career mark.
The Terps went into the half with 36-34 lead and led by as much as 12 points in the second half. As time ticked along and the score got closer, it resembled a familiar tale: Maryland would hang around until late, then Melo Trimble would find his way to the free throw line – he went 14-15 at the line – and win the game by the slightest margin.
“I still thought we were going to win. I think everyone did,” Turgeon said.
This time, however, it played out differently — an unfamiliar notion for the 20-3 Terps.
“This one hurts. We played well enough to win. I’m really proud of my group,” Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon said. “We allowed them to beat us at the foul line. Give them credit.”