COLLEGE PARK — Maryland quickly erased the memory of Thursday's blowout loss at Indiana by saying that the Hoosiers would have beaten any team in the country at Assembly Hall the way they shot the ball, particularly their 3-pointers.
The No. 13 Terps made another memory Sunday night, one that could carry them for an entire season.
Seemingly on the brink of getting blown out by another hot-shooting team and then on the verge of watching a terrific comeback ruined on a step-back jumper by Northwestern's Tre Demps that gave the Wildcats a one-point lead with nine seconds to go, Dez Wells played a role he had yet to reprise this season — hero.
The senior guard, who had struggled to regain his form after fracturing his wrist in late November, banked in a missed 3-pointer by freshman guard Melo Trimble with just more than a second left to give Maryland a hard-to-believe 68-67 victory and an announced 14,113 at Xfnity Center — at least those who remained — reason to celebrate.
"Obviously, I'm really happy with the outcome, I'm really happy for a lot of people, the team and the players, they kept on fighting on a night they weren't terrific," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "I'm really happy for Dez. Melo was Melo, doing what he does."
Asked the difference between winning a thriller or losing a heartbreaker, Turgeon laughed.
"It's not even close, 5-3 and 6-2 [in the Big Ten], losing a home game," Turgeon said. "That's why I was acting like a fool out there, knowing how big it was."
Trimble and Wells led the Terps in their comeback from several double-digit deficits, including the largest halftime deficit of the season (11 points) and an 11-point deficit with 3:24 to go. Maryland (18-3, 6-2) trailed by as many as 14 in the second half.
Trimble finished with 27 points, including 19 in the second half, to go along with five steals and three assists. Wells had 17 points, and made his second game-winner in the past two seasons, following a 3-point shot in the closing seconds to beat Miami last year.
"I was happy for Dez," Turgeon said of Wells, who had just nine points in each of his last two games. "My whole thing with Dez is that he's trying way too hard. I just keep trying to get him to settle down. With that, he was great in the end, he got the tip. I thought he was great defensively, I thought Demps made a big-time shot to give them the lead. Happy for Dez."
Said Wells: "I just thank Melo for that half-shot, half-pass. It just shows our true character as a team. They came out playing really well. My hat goes out to [Northwestern coach Chris Collins] and his team. They shot like 70 percent in the first half. It's extremely hard to beat a team that shoots that well for a game. But we believed, and we knew we could make it happen."
Northwestern (10-10, 1-6), which has now lost its last four games by a total of 10 points (including a pair of two-point losses to Michigan and Ohio State), didn't look as if it was going to lose to the Terps. The Wildcats made 16 of 23 shots in the first half, including seven of 12 on 3-pointers, to build leads of 25-13, 38-24 and 41-30 at halftime. They finished 26 of 48 for the game.
"Certainly it's disappointing for us, but you've got to credit Maryland," said second-year Northwestern coach Chris Collins, a former Duke player and assistant coach. "They are a really good basketball team, and they never gave up. They made a lot of plays down the stretch, especially for Dez to have the presence of mind to follow up that shot and make a great play at the end."
Freshman point guard Bryant McIntosh, who hit 10 of 14 shots and led the Wildcats with 21 points, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 29 seconds left to open the door for the Terps.
"It's kind of hard to look at a personal perspective," said McIntosh, who certainly held his own in a battle with Trimble. "I don't deal with losing very well. All I know is that we got beat."
Turgeon also was realistic that his team was fortunate to win on a night that it played its worst first half in a Big Ten game this season. Yet it also showed the kind of resiliency the Terps have demonstrated throughout this remarkable turnaround season.
"It shows that this group, they're winners," Turgeon said. "They figure out ways to win. They kept saying during the last media timeout, 'We can do this.' Then the building got loud and some things broke our way. I know they're really proud of themselves the way they came back. They're also smart enough and mature enough to know we've got to get a lot better for us to continue to win and play at a high level."
Interestingly, Turgeon was not happy that Trimble settled to win the game with a 3-pointer rather than driving it and either winning it with a layup or at the free-throw line, something he and Wells had done throughout the second half and Trimble had done throughout his first year.
"I didn't like the shot Melo took, we'd just been driving on them and getting to the rim," Turgeon said. "But Dez does what Dez does. He was upset that he let the guy score on him, so he was going to get to that ball. It was a big-time tip. We almost had to be perfect after the last media timeout to win the game, and we were close to that."
Said Wells: "We went into the huddle, and I told my guys, 'We've got one more chance.' I kind of challenged my guys to elevate their games, and they did. They responded. That's a sign of a potentially great team, but that's to be seen."