EVANSTON, ILL. — The No. 4 Maryland men's basketball team came to Northwestern's bandbox gym hoping to put its lackluster performance against Penn State in the past, and to not need another miraculous comeback to win.
Quickly silencing a sellout crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena that came to see the Wildcats continue their best start in 85 years and beat a top-10 team for the first time in four years, Maryland's mission was accomplished Saturday.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon took care of that.
After combining to miss 16 of their first 17 shots against the Nittany Lions before Trimble hit a couple of late 3-pointers, the Maryland guards combined for 40 points on 14-for-25 shooting — including 9-for-18 on 3-pointers — to lead Maryland to a 72-59 win.
Sulaimon called the comeback win against Penn State "definitely a big scare" and said "it kind of opened our eyes. I'm glad we learned from a win rather than a loss."
As a result, Sulaimon said the Terps came into Northwestern with the idea of being aggressive at both ends.
"I think we did that and as a result we jumped out to a comfortable lead," he said.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said his players "really wanted to redeem themselves" after the game against Penn State.
"We knew we were lucky to win against Penn State," Turgeon said. "We didn't really say a lot. We showed positives, we showed the last 6 ½ minutes of the game because I thought our guys were kind of walking on eggshells. We did a lot of talking. We didn't practice a lot because we wanted our energy level to be high and it showed."
Particularly on the defensive end, where in winning its seventh straight game, Maryland (13-1, 2-0 Big Ten) held Northwestern (13-2, 1-1) to 2-for-20 on 3-pointers after the Wildcats came in shooting 39.1 percent for the season. The Terps also forced one of the nation's most efficient offensive teams into 12 turnovers.
"I thought defensively we were really, really good," Turgeon said. "The things we wanted to take away, we took away. They run 100 sets and we were dialed in on them, especially in the first half in front of our bench. And we played just good enough offense; we made some shots. We really shared the ball [21 assists]."
It was Turgeon's 100th win in five seasons at Maryland.
Trimble, who finished 3-for-15 on Wednesday night, started by missing his first four against the Wildcats including a corner 3-pointer that hit the side of the backboard. But he got hot late in the first half and finished 8-for-16 overall with a game-high 24 points. Trimble also had eight assists, eight rebounds and zero turnovers in 38 minutes.
Asked how he overcame the slow start against Northwestern, Trimble said, "Just stayed confident. Coach Turgeon told me to keep shooting just like I did against Penn State. ... I knew I would hit shots. I was getting a lot of open looks, shots that I normally make. I tried to let the game come to me and that's what I did."
Sulaimon, who missed all five shots he took against Penn State, hit all five he tried in the first half to help the Terps lead by as many as 22 points before the break and by 20, 40-20, at halftime. He scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half. He added six rebounds and six assists.
"He told me right after the [Penn State] game, 'I'm going to give you more offense at Northwestern,'" Turgeon said. "He's a veteran. He made some big shots, some tough shots. It was good to see. When Rasheed shoots that way, and Melo's playing that way and Jake [Layman] is playing that way, we're pretty good."
Coming off a freshman school-record 39 point performance, Diamond Stone continued his streak of double-figure scoring games with 10 points. Layman added nine points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
Maryland avoided the same fate as the Big Ten's other top-25 teams. Iowa, the Big Ten's biggest surprise team, beat top-ranked Michigan State in Iowa City on Tuesday and won at No. 14 Purdue on Saturday.
The Terps also avoided having to make the kind of comeback they made against Penn State, when they trailed by 13 with 6:34 remaining. Maryland didn't have to repeat last year's comeback against the Wildcats, who led by as many as 14 and by 11 with 3:28 left on Jan. 25, 2015, before the Terps won on a last-second follow by Dez Wells.
The game was more reminiscent of Maryland's last trip to Northwestern, when the Terps won by 20 in Turgeon's second year in 2012-13, when Wells led the way after being heckled by the crowd before and during the early portion of the game.
Sulaimon, who scored just one point in Wednesday's come-from-way-behind 70-64 win over the Nittany Lions, hit all five he took in the first half, including a trio of 3-point shots.
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