Melo Trimble breaks out of slump with career-high 32 points in Maryland's win over Northwestern

Maryland junior guard Melo Trimble resembled his old, younger self Wednesday at Welsh-Ryan Arena, both in terms of facial hair he didn't have and the shooting touch he always seems to have against Northwestern.In the midst of a four-game shooting slump,...

Melo Trimble breaks out of slump with career-high 32 points in Maryland's win over Northwestern

Maryland junior guard Melo Trimble resembled his old, younger self Wednesday at Welsh-Ryan Arena, both in terms of facial hair he didn't have and the shooting touch he always seems to have against Northwestern.

In the midst of a four-game shooting slump, Trimble took over the game early against the Wildcats, and wasn't finished until he had produced one of the more spectacular shooting performances of his career.

Trimble finished with a career-high 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-5 on 3-pointers, to lead the No. 23 Terps to a much-needed 74-64 victory over Northwestern.

“Melo’s a great player, and he showed it tonight,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “I think great players should have a couple of games when they don’t make shots, and we still win and he still does a lot of great things for us.”

Turgeon said at halftime on the Big Ten Network telecast that Trimble, who hit five of seven shots in the first half, might have been spurred by stories about how poorly he was shooting. He came in making just 16 of his last 52 (30.8 percent), including just 3-of-22 3-pointers (13.6 percent).

“I just told Melo to play with confidence,” Turgeon said after the game. “He’s got to have the confidence. I can’t give it to him, his mom can’t give it to him. He’s got to have it. He’s got to be borderline cocky out there, and I think he played that way a little tonight.”

Trimble made his first shot — a 3-pointer — to give Maryland (22-4 overall, 10-3 Big Ten) an early 9-2 lead. After the lead nearly disappeared after Turgeon gave Trimble his first breather, the junior came back in and hit three straight shots to help the Terps build their lead to as many as 11 points in the first half.

With Maryland leading by 10 at halftime, Trimble picked up where he left off, scoring twice on drives against bigger defenders and then later adding a couple of deep 3-pointers as the Terps built their lead to 20 points in the second half.

“Once I saw that first shot go in, I knew it was going to be my game,” Trimble said. “I just played within the system; I didn’t try to force anything. I just took what the defense gave me.”

Asked what the difference was compared to his recent stretch, Trimble said: “Just playing basketball. Just all year, I’ve been playing basketball — unfortunately couldn’t make any shots — but tonight was my night, and I just kept playing.”

The victory might have been the most impressive, and one of the most important of the season for the Terps. Northwestern (19-7, 8-5) was coming off an upset of then-No. 7 Wisconsin in Madison on Sunday.

That is where Maryland will play Sunday. Now tied with Purdue, the Terps could also find themselves tied with the Badgers, who are 10-2 going into Thursday's game at Michigan.

It was the fourth straight victory for Maryland over Northwestern since joining the Big Ten, and the fourth straight time Trimble outplayed his counterpart, junior guard Bryant McIntosh, who got into early foul trouble and finished with just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting, 0-for-5 on 3s.

Trimble made his first two 3s and five of the seven shots he took in the first half.

Maryland led after its first possession and never trailed. The Wildcats were playing their fourth straight game without leading scorer Scottie Lindsey, who is out with mononucleosis.

I told our guys to keep going,” Turgeon said. “We have a lot of depth, and their defense the first 10 minutes was great. We couldn’t get anything going, but we made a few. I told our guys that eventually we’re going to get all the way to the rim, get the foul calls, and our guys kept doing it. We’re hard to guard when everybody’s spacing right and playing well.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

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