COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland was being dominated on the boards and seemingly incapable of scoring from the outside. As the deficit against Towson reached double digits, coach Mark Turgeon began to wonder if a comeback was possible.
“I wasn’t sure if we could do it,” he admitted.
Down by 13 points with 14 minutes left, the Terrapins (4-0) rallied behind Melo Trimble to pull out a 71-66 victory Sunday.
Trimble scored 27 and freshman Justin Jackson added 21 for Maryland, which used a game-ending 35-17 surge to squeeze past its in-state foe.
“We figured out how to win. It’s what we do,” Turgeon said. “When we were down 13 it didn’t look good.”
It was tied at 66 when Towson guard Deshaun Morman missed a shot and Trimble was fouled getting the rebound.
Trimble made two free throws with 35.9 seconds left. After Mike Morsell misfired for the Tigers, freshman Anthony Cowan was fouled and sank one of two shots for a three-point cushion.
Towson’s last chance faded when Morman missed a 3-pointer and Kevin Huerter made two fouls shots on the other end.
“It was just about us playing defense and dialing in,” said Trimble, who went 4 for 15 from the floor but was 16 for 17 at the foul line.
The Tigers (2-1) outrebounded Maryland 46-33 but were outscored 26-15 at the foul line.
Morsell led the Tigers with 17 points and Morman had 15. Towson is 0-13 against the Terrapins.
The Tigers had more height than Maryland, but they didn’t have Trimble.
“I’m a Red Sox fan,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said. “It’s like playing against Mariano Rivera back in the day. He’s like the ultimate closer for a team.”
The Tigers, on the other hand, couldn’t make a sizeable lead stand up.
Towson opened the second half with a 13-2 run to move in front 49-36 with 14:27 remaining. Maryland missed its first seven field-goal tries before Trimble ended the dry spell with a 3-point play.
That ignited a 12-1 run that got the Terrapins to 50-48. The Tigers then expanded their lead to 56-51, but soon after that, Trimble hit a 3 from the corner to put Maryland up 61-58, its first lead since 27-26 late in the first half.
“We’re an unbelievable work in progress when it comes to our offense right now,” Turgeon said. “With 12 minutes to go in the game I finally figured out what was going to work and we were able to do some good things against them.”
Unlike his coach, Trimble was confident the Terps could pull it out.
“We knew we could come back and hopefully change the momentum and try and get the lead back,” he said. “It was just about us playing defense and dialing in.”
The matchup was a campus-site game in the Barclays Center Classic, which does not put the teams in brackets until the action shifts to New York and Towson on Nov. 25.
Maryland was without guard Dion Wiley, who had a stomach virus. Turgeon is also waiting on 7-foot-1 center Michal Cekovsky, who has yet to play this year because of a sprained foot.
Towson: The Tigers showed they can complete with one of the better teams in the nation, which should serve as a confidence-boost when they get into play in the Colonial Athletic Conference.
“I told our guys our goal is to get into the NCAA tournament,” Skerry said. “That’s the type of team you’re going to play against and be able to beat.”
Maryland: This marked the third time in four games the Terrapins were involved in a close game. Barely beating American and Towson is nothing to crow about, but the experience gained from playing in tight affairs could prove beneficial in the future.
“We’ve figured out how to win three closes games now, which is a (good) sign when you’re playing so many young kids like we are,” Turgeon said.
Towson travels to Boston College on Tuesday night for another campus-site game in the Barclays Classic.
Maryland hosts Stony Brook on Tuesday night in the Barclays Classic. The Terps are 2-0 against Stony Brook, winning in 2000 and 2012.