Melo Trimble led four players in double-figures with 24 points as No. 5 Maryland avoided an upset at the hands of No. 13 Hawai’i, 73-60, advancing to the program’s first Sweet 16 since 2003.
The Terps did not play all that well on Sunday evening, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. They shot just 1-for-18 from beyond the arc and, with the exception of one four minute stretch midway through the second half, did not often look like the best team on the floor.
They were beaten to loose balls. They were beaten to rebounds. They couldn’t take advantage of their size or of their more talented back court. They trailed 39-36 at one point in the second half, a deficit that probably should have been more than Hawai’i been able to make a layup or willing to run an offensive set.
But Maryland’s transition game made the difference.
First, it was a layup from Rasheed Sulaimon. Then it was Sulaimon finding Diamond Stone for a lob, followed almost immediately by Sulaimon setting up Jake Layman for a dunk. Finally, less than a minute after Sulaimon’s first layup, Trimble hit the first and only Maryland three of the game, pushing their lead to 48-41. The Terps would eventually extend that lead to 53-41, and Hawai’i never really threatened again.
Maryland has been one of the biggest disappointments in college basketball this season. There’s really no other way to put it. This is a program with the talent on their roster to be considered one of the nation’s top three teams, but head coach Mark Turgeon still has not found a way to consistently get those pieces to fit together.
And on Sunday night, those pieces did not play like they fit together.
But here’s the thing: The Terps managed to find a way to beat a tougher-than-you-think Hawai’i team by 13 points on a night where they really struggled to make shots, where they spent a good 28 minutes getting outworked and beaten to loose balls.
That’s what makes them so frustrating. You see the ability in flashes. That 9-0 run happened in the blink of an eye. In 53 second burst, Maryland went from a team that looked like they were on the ropes to landing a punch that just about knocked the Rainbows out.
It was as quick of a turnaround as you’ll ever see.
But they’re going to have to find a way to be able to play at their best for more than two minutes at a time next weekend.
Because the Terps will be locking horns with No. 1 Kansas in the Sweet 16.
And if they play the way they did for the first 28 minutes against the Jayhawks, they’ll find themselves in a 20 point hole. Good luck digging out of that.