By Jennifer Brugh | @
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – The third-seeded Maryland Terrapins set a single-game scoring record in their 97-86 victory over Nebraska in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament Friday night. But don’t be fooled by the final score. The 11-point margin did not reflect the control Maryland established for most of an evening in which the Terrapins led by as many as 25 points.
“We have so many weapons, it’s hard to guard us,” said Maryland senior Jake Layman, who led the Terrapins with 26 points. Freshman center Diamond Stone scored 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Junior forward Robert Carter scored 13 points. Sophomore guard Melo Trimble had 16 points with eight assists. And senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon had 10 points with six assists.
Maryland (25-7) advanced to a semifinal game against Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. Layman described the problems posed by such a versatile collection of five double-figure scorers. “We can go inside to Diamond and Rob,” he said, “kick it outside to me, Melo, or Rasheed. Our offense was great tonight. Our defense needs to be a little better though.”
Layman, who also had five rebounds and two steals, was hitting shots from deep and refused to slow down. Maryland made 20 of 28 shots – 71 percent – on the way to a 54-37 halftime lead. The Terrapins made 60 percent of their shots in the game.
“Well, I was feeling it,” Layman said. “And I said to Melo, ‘You had better run this next play for me, too.’ So, yeah.”
Maryland made 90 percent of its first-half 3-point attempts. Layman made 5 of 6 from beyond the line in the first half. The Terps couldn’t stop. They wouldn’t stop. And try as they might, the Huskers just couldn’t keep up.
The Huskers (16-18) were playing for the third consecutive day and the fourth in six. Fatigue may have been a factor in their struggle. Junior guard Tai Webster, who scored 17 points, said he felt the Huskers were only as tired as they let themselves be.
“It was mostly all mental stuff,” Webster said. “Once you got out there, you don’t have time to be tired. You’re drilling, pumping, everything. Even if you are, some players might be tired, but you forget about that kind of stuff and it’s go time.”
Nebraska coach Tim Miles said he was still pleased with the way his team performed defensively compared to the last time these two teams met, a 70-65 loss on Feb. 3. Although Webster said team wasn’t fatigued, Miles disagreed.
“I thought maybe we were a little bit fatigued in the legs and emotionally, and they were hitting, clicking on all cylinders,” Miles said.
Maryland is the only team in the Big Ten with five players with a scoring average in double digits. Carter, who is just 28 points away from the 1,000-point mark, could reach that milestone in the tournament. Carter would become the fourth Terrapin on the roster to reach that mark.
The Terps had 20 assists, 14 of which came during the first half on 20 buckets. Nebraska outscored Maryland, 49-43, during the second half and with 1:38 to play the Huskers came within six points. Husker junior guard Andrew White III, Nebraska’s leading scorer in the game with 25 points, said that this tournament was a good test of the team’s togetherness.
“I think we all just wanted to send our seniors and our staff and everyone out on a good note by selling out and giving everything that we could,” White said. “When you don’t give up, it’s surprising what you can do. I think everybody got the best of their effort going towards that last end stretch, just to sell out and do everything we could to try to win the game.”
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was pleased to see the enthusiasm his team showed near the end of what has been, at times, a frustrating season. “It was good to see us play well and execute and share the ball,” Turgeon said. “That’s more important than anything. So sometimes you can play well and lose. I thought there was a couple of games down the stretch where I thought we played better and still lost, one game for sure. But it’s nice to play and win. So hopefully that will give us momentum going into tomorrow.”