As he watched his team come undone in an 89-75 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday night, Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon waded in front of his team’s bench and threw his fist into the air. He screamed at an official, with his roar cutting through the silence inside Xfinity Center. Turgeon promptly was slapped with a technical foul with 4:32 remaining and his team down by eight, well on its way to a second consecutive loss.
That happened to be exactly how much time was on the clock when Turgeon opted to pull junior Melo Trimble in the second half of Sunday’s loss at Wisconsin for what the coach later attributed to a lack of rebounding. An eerily similar scene unfolded Wednesday, with Turgeon venting his frustration late in the second half. And even though he played Trimble in the final minutes of this latest setback, it simply wasn’t enough against the upstart Gophers, who scored 55 points in the second half and forced Maryland (22-6, 10-5 Big Ten) into long droughts of offensive ineptitude over the final 20 minutes.
“It wasn’t by design. We had some good looks there,” Turgeon said.
Trimble finished with 11 points on just 4-for-12 shooting , unable to lift his team out of an offensive slump late in the second half. On a night when Maryland achieved offensive balance — it was led by redshirt sophomore reserve forward Ivan Bender with 15 points — it shot 41 percent from the field.
But it couldn’t get critical stops down the stretch against the Gophers (21-7, 9-6), who shot 50 percent from the field and were led by 18 points from guard Dupree McBrayer.
Maryland has lost four of six and still has plenty of work to do to secure a top-four seed in next month’s Big Ten tournament.
But what made this latest setback even more disheartening was how clean it appeared on paper.
Maryland held a 42-36 rebounding advantage. Of its 30 field goals, 21 were assisted. It committed just 10 turnovers and received 31 points from its bench, critical contributions given that the depth took a hit earlier this week after the team announced junior center Michal Cekovsky was out for the rest of the season with a fractured left ankle suffered in the loss to Wisconsin.
But none of it mattered on a night when Maryland surrendered a season-high 89 points and allowed its shortcomings on defense to seep into the effort on the offensive end over the final eight minutes. Three guards — Trimble and freshmen Anthony Cowan Jr. and Kevin Huerter — combined to shoot just 10 for 35 from the field.
“We shared the ball throughout the whole game, and we really played for each other,” Bender said. “The only difference between the first and second half, I would say, is that we didn’t make shots and they did.”
Turgeon had publicly called out four of his starters for their rebounding deficiencies in the loss Wisconsin, which led to their benching late in the game. That included Trimble, who looked motivated to light a fire underneath his teammates early Wednesday night. Yet Trimble struggled offensively — he hit just 1 of 7 from the field in the first half. Maryland had eight more rebounds than Minnesota in the first half, including a 10-3 advantage on the offensive boards, and scored 26 of its 35 points in the paint.
Bender scored eight of his 12 first half points in the final 4:11 alone, which included an offensive rebound putback with 37 seconds left that helped give Maryland a 35-34 advantage at the break.
Cowan and Huerter were both held scoreless in the first half but opened the second half by capitalizing on a string of open looks and combined to score 10 straight points. Each hit three-pointers and followed with acrobatic layups to push the lead to 49-46 with 15:16 remaining .
Maryland’s first made free throw of the game didn’t come until about a minute later, when senior center Damonte Dodd finished a three-point play to give his team a 52-50 lead. While opportunities at the free throw line were at premium — Maryland shot just 8 for 13 from the line — the Terrapins also struggled with scoring droughts for long stretches. After Dodd’s basket and a free throw by Bender, Maryland didn’t score another field goal for 3:32, while Minnesota used a 9-0 burst to take a six-point lead.
“It happened so fast. You’re right there, and then you’re down 10,” Turgeon said.
Trimble, who had hit 21 of 34 from the field in two games last week, made his first three-pointer of the game with 10:22 remaining to cut the deficit to three. But then came another scoring drought. Maryland didn’t hit a field goal for nearly five minutes as Minnesota pushed its lead to seven with 7:23 remaining after a pair of free throws by forward Jordan Murphy. After a Trimble turnover, the Gophers took a 70-60 lead on a three-pointer by McBrayer.
Turgeon, who had picked up technical foul midway through the second half in Sunday’s loss to Wisconsin, did it again after protesting a foul call on Dodd. And after Minnesota guard Nate Mason hit a pair of free throws, Murphy completed another three-point play to make it 75-62 with 3:29 left. A stunned crowd began to file out shortly after.
“Tonight, we just didn’t have it. We’ve talked about it,” Turgeon said. “We’ll try to figure it out.”