COLUMBUS, Ohio — With Ohio State refusing to fold down the stretch Tuesday night, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon put Melo Trimble back into the game and said, “Take it over.”
With No. 17 Maryland holding on to a one-point lead with 2 1/2 minutes remaining, the reliable guard knocked down a 3-pointer and scored the Terps’ last seven points as they held off the tenacious Buckeyes down the stretch to win 77-71.
“Melo was Melo,” Turgeon said of the junior, who finished with 13 points but missed his first five 3-point shots. Trimble’s lack of success from beyond the arc didn’t deter him from trying the last one, with 2:02 left in the game.
“I just play with a lot of confidence,” Trimble said. “If I miss the first one, I’m going to shoot the next one.”
Justin Jackson had 22 points and 12 rebounds as Maryland (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten) won its seventh straight. The Terps haven’t lost since Jan. 1 and have won all six of their games on the road this season.
“That was a gut-check win for us,” Turgeon said. “I thought Ohio State was terrific. They were hard for us to guard, shot 48 percent against us.”
It was another hard-to-swallow loss for the Buckeyes, who fought back from a halftime deficit and pulled within one point four times in the second half, but just couldn’t get over the hump. Marc Loving got the Buckeyes within two points with 1:46 left, but a jumper by Trimble put Maryland up 75-71, and Trimble hit two free throws with 13 seconds remaining to seal it.
Jae’Sean Tate scored 20 points and Loving added 18 for the Buckeyes (13-10, 3-7 Big Ten), who have lost three of their last four in what has turned into a disappointing season. Loving was 4 for 5 from 3-point range.
“As I told our guys, we played better, but we didn’t play good enough,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.
The lead changed six times in the first half, with Maryland grabbing it for good on a 3 by Jared Nickens with 3:01 left. A 7-0 run to end the half put the Terps up 42-36. Jackson shot 5 for 6 from the field in the half, including 3 for 4 from beyond the arc.
Maryland started the second half with a dunk by Damonte Dodd off a turnover by Ohio State’s Trevor Thompson and wouldn’t relinquish the lead despite Ohio State’s pushes in the final minutes.
“We didn’t play our best on the defensive end,” Trimble said. “We didn’t get enough stops. Normally we try to get three stops in a row every game, and we couldn’t do that today. But we got a stop when it counted.”
Maryland: The Terps keep rolling through the Big Ten with an eye on the postseason.
Ohio State: Inconsistent Buckeyes stumble again as the season crumbles. They will have to win seven of the last eight games to reach 20 wins, which is unlikely. Hello NIT.
“As the leaders of this team, if guys aren’t playing to the best of their ability, we’ve got to figure out how to lift them up,” Tate said. “There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, and we’ve just got to figure it out. It’s not too late.”
Maryland: Plays No. 23 Purdue at home on Saturday.
Ohio State: Travels to Michigan for a Saturday afternoon game.
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