STATE COLLEGE, PA. — A month of road nightmares for Maryland seemed close to an end early in the second half Saturday night against Penn State.
Down by one point at halftime, the Terps had quieted the small Bryce Jordan Center crowd and lifted the large contingent of Maryland fans who had trekked through the snow and wind with a 13-point lead six minutes into the half.
But Maryland would not make it easy on itself. The No. 19 Terps never do.
After surrendering its large lead, Maryland survived, 76-73, behind 22 points from senior guard Dez Wells and 20 from freshman point guard Melo Trimble. Junior forward Jake Layman added 13, including 10 in the second half.
"It's really a good feeling when you have three guys you can go to. Some [coaches] have one; some have zero," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "I got three guys I can go to, and I've got a card with eight plays [in which] we can call on any one of them."
Said Trimble, who finished with the Terps' last six points: "We knew we could get a score out of one of us, so it's easy. Well, it's not easy, but it's better to go through one of us."
It certainly wasn't easy late. In a scenario eerily similar to Wednesday night's home win over Indiana, Penn State's D.J. Newbill hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to cut the deficit to one, as the Hoosiers' Yogi Ferrell had done.
The difference this time was that, after Wells had missed the first of two free throws Wednesday, Trimble made both of his. The ending was the same, though: Newbill missed a 3-pointer as time nearly ran out.
The senior guard, until recently the Big Ten's leading scorer, finished with a game-high 25 points for Penn State (15-11, 3-10 Big Ten Conference), which had won its past three home games.
"It was going to have to be a tough shot to beat us. If he made it, he made it," said Turgeon, who said he didn't consider fouling before Newbill's first last-minute 3-pointer. "That's my philosophy."
Sealing the game for Maryland (21-5, 9-4) was Trimble. The star freshman, who recently disclosed that he had been playing with back and leg pain for the better part of a month, had his third strong offensive game in a row. He was 4-for-6 from the field, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, and made all 12 free-throw attempts.
Wells also continued his recent offensive surge. After going for 18 points against Indiana, he finished 7-for-10 from the field and 7-for-7 from the line Saturday, and was instrumental in helping push the Terps to a 55-42 lead early in the second half.
Later, after Penn State had stormed back to claim a brief lead, Trimble collided with senior forward Evan Smotrycz on a driving layup with 1:22 left, to put the Terps up 72-68.
Trimble said he "blacked out for a second" for the second time in three games, and Richaud Pack missed the free throw in Trimble's place.
He then heard Wells tell his young sidekick that he was wasn't hurt. "I was kind of hurt," Trimble said, "but when he told me that, I kind of felt better right way. It was just a little shock."
Asked what he told Trimble, Wells smiled.
"Suck it up," he said.
That might best sum up what the Terps do in tight games. Not only was the victory the Terps' first on the road since a Jan. 11 win at Purdue, it was also their eighth in as many games decided by six points or fewer.
"It shows our poise down the stretch. We don't get nervous, and we just play basketball," Trimble said.
After the win over Indiana, Turgeon had told his team in the locker room that they were "getting ready to go on a roll." Video of the message was shared on social media, which didn't seem to please Turgeon. But after three straight road blowouts, he was happy to go home with the win.
"It was good. We put a lot into this," Turgeon said. "We had a meeting last night talking about where we started at Oklahoma State [where they won in late December] and how well we played and why we played well. We've had some really good road wins: Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Purdue."
The Terps are now 3-4 in the Big Ten on the road and alone in second place in the league. Their next three games are at Xfinity Center, where they are unbeaten (10-0) since losing to No. 2 Virginia in early December.
"Not bad for a team that was picked [to finish] 10th" in the Big Ten, Turgeon said.