Melo Trimble scored 25 points and Diamond Stone played his best game as a collegian, finishing with 16 points and nine boards, as No. 6 Maryland knocked off UConn in the Huskies’ third home, 76-66, in the Jimmy V Classic’s night cap.
For 35 minutes, the Terps were terrific. Trimble was impossible to keep out of the lane, Stone and Robert Carter overpowered UConn’s smaller front line and the Terps made just enough play on the defensive end of the floor to take complete control.
They were up by 20 points in the first half. UConn didn’t get the lead into the single digits until there were five minutes left in the game.
Total dominance …
… until those last five minutes, when Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis finally started to make some shots. The Huskies cut the lead to nine, then to six and then, after a three from Hamilton with 2:54 left, to 67-64. On the ensuing inbounds, however, Jalen Adams was called for a hold — a fair call given the new rules — and head coach Kevin Ollie lost his mind, picking up one of the single dumbest technical fouls that you’re ever going to see.
What is he doing???
UConn cut a 16 point lead to three in five minutes of game time. They had all the momentum. Even after Maryland’s two free throws — Trimble missed one of them, by the way — UConn still would have had a chance to win. Technically, they still did after the technical foul, but it just seemed to take the wind out of UConn’s sails. After a missed jumper from Hamilton, Rasheed Sulaimon scored on a driving layup and UConn would never get closer than six the rest of the way.
Ollie, for what it’s worth, wasn’t apologetic for the technical foul, nor did he think it changed anything in the game.
“I don’t think it changed [momentum],” he said. “Melo was going to the foul line anyway.”
“I just hit the stand where the stats people were at, and my hand caught the papers. I slapped that and the papers went flying.”
Ollie is developing a bit of a reputation for sidelines histrionics. During UConn’s 2014 national title season, Ollie had one of the craziest ejections that you’ll ever see in the college ranks, getting lit up twice in the span of five seconds after he thought the refs missed a call and then took his time walking off the floor, staring at and stalking the refs in the process.
I love the competitive fire — he fights for his guys, players do appreciate that — but come on, man. You can’t be freaking out like that in games that your team still has a chance to win.
As an aside — or, if you ask Ollie, the real story of the game — is that for the third time this season, UConn played a top 25 team. And for the third time this season, they dug themselves a massive hole before storming back to make things interesting down the stretch.
The talent is there for this group to be an American contender and a top 25 program in their own right.
But what is it going to take for them to put together a full 40 minutes on a nightly basis?