Trimble scores 20 as No. 12 Maryland beats Minnesota in Big Ten opener
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Two months ago, not even the players themselves expected Maryland to be this good so soon.
With their 70-58 victory over Minnesota on Saturday, the 12th-ranked Terrapins extended their winning streak to seven games and added another noteworthy accomplishment in the Big Ten to go with their double-overtime triumph at Michigan State on Tuesday.
Maryland (14-1, 2-0) is off to its best start since 1997. It seemed hard to imagine at the outset of the season, given the Terrapins were 17-15 last year and have four freshmen receiving significant playing time.
"I wouldn’t have believed it, but I believe it now," freshman Melo Trimble said. "The way we’re practicing every day and the way we come to the games focused and basically making defense a priority."
Trimble scored 20 points, and the Terrapins cranked up the defense in pulling away from the foul-plagued Golden Gophers (11-4, 0-2).
Trimble missed 10 of 15 shots from the floor but went 9 for 13 at the foul line. Dez Wells added 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and sophomore Damonte Dodd had a career-high 12 rebounds.
After winning its Big Ten debut on the road, Maryland rolled to victory in its first home game in its new conference.
Although the Terrapins never trailed after the opening three minutes, Minnesota kept it close deep into the second half. But the Golden Gophers shot only 33.8 percent in their lowest-scoring outing of the season and were outrebounded 44-35.
Maurice Walker had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Carlos Morris scored 18 for the Gophers, who have lost two in a row after an eight-game winning streak.
The Gophers were called for 15 fouls after halftime. Maryland made 20 of 28 free throws overall after going 3 for 4 in the first half.
"Certainly, we fought back a couple of times … but we just kept fouling," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino lamented. "You can’t win like that."
Maryland was nursing a 41-35 lead when Dodd swatted away a shot by Joey King. Trimble followed with a layup on the other end, and a basket by Jake Layman gave the Terrapins a 10-point cushion.
That was part of a 9-0 run that made it 47-35 with 13:50 left.
The Gophers closed to 53-46 before Wells scored off his own miss and sank two foul shots for an 11-point lead with 7:27 remaining.
Minnesota never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
"Our confidence is at an all-time high right now," Dodd said. "I don’t think people expected us to be doing as well as we are, so we’ve just got to continue to build on this and keep getting better."
Knowing that the regular season extends into March, coach Mark Turgeon downplayed the 14-1 start.
"What matters to me is how we’re playing, and I don’t think we’re playing as well as we can play," he said. "We’ve got to play a more complete game and be a little bit more consistent."
Minnesota: The Gophers have been held under 80 points in two straight games after scoring at least 84 in all eight during their winning streak. … Minnesota fell to 0-5 all-time against the Terrapins.
Maryland: With nine points over 13 minutes in the first half, Dodd matched his career high in scoring. He was 3 for 3 from the floor with two blocks and seven rebounds.
REVERSAL OF FORM
Minnesota: The Gophers were ranked second nationally in assists (19.9) on Jan. 2 and led the Big Ten in 3-point shooting. In this one, they had only five assists and shot 13.6 percent beyond the arc.
Maryland: After 15 games a year ago, the Terrapins were 10-5. Now they’re off to their best start in 18 years, better even than their national championship season in 2001-02 when they began 13-2.
Minnesota: The Gophers host Ohio State on Tuesday, and Pitino can’t wait to get home after losing at Purdue and Maryland.
"We knew these first two games would be very difficult," he said. "We’re excited to go back home. We need to go home and get some confidence back."
Maryland: The Terps face Illinois on the road Wednesday.