COLLEGE PARK — Buried in the scoreboard by double-digits with under 13 minutes to go, it seemed almost certain that Maryland basketball won’t pull of the thrilling feat this time around.
Coming off a 14-point loss to Pittsburgh, and getting considerably outplayed – down 12 to Oklahoma State — the crusader notion of the 2016-2017 season appeared flukier by the dwelling seconds.
Then, they did it again.
A 12-point deficit was wiped away in a matter of six minutes and 44 seconds. Over that span, the Terrapins shut out the country’s second highest scoring offense and then handed the keys to closer Melo Trimble, who sank the game-winning free throws with 9.4 seconds remaining.
So, just as planned, right?
“It’s what we do,” Turgeon said, oozing with confidence after the Terrapins pulled out their third victory by one point on Saturday night, 71-70, over Oklahoma State at Xfinity Center. “We win close games.”
The folklore of this seasons Terrapins (8-1) basketball team forged another decisive chapter on Saturday night – their sixth win by six points or less. Maryland also only led for four minutes and four seconds. But it was all they needed.
Oklahoma State led for over 34 minutes, committed less turnovers (18-15), grabbed more rebounds (44-39) and had more second chance points (17-13).
Outside of seasoned veterans Trimble and Damonte Dodd, three freshman – Anthony Cowan, Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter – anchor majority of the playing time, combining for 80 of the 200 total allocated minutes.
“It’s rare,” Turgeon said. “See how many people are playing three freshman 30 minutes into the game and are 8-1.”
Maryland led only once in the first half – when Cowan made the game’s first point on one free throw 15 seconds into the game. After that, the Terrapins didn’t regain the lead until the momentous 13-0 run with 6:27 to go.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” Trimble said of the tight-rope finishes. “Just to be in that situation, a close game towards the end. … It’s good for us going through this right now.”
The Cowboys led by as many as 11 in the first half. A 9-0 run fueled by a Cowan layup, Dion Wiley 3-pointer, Trimble layup and a Dodd dunk drew Maryland to within two with 5:07 left in the first. They trailed by six, with 13 turnovers, at halftime.
In the second half, only five turnovers were committed, and was “the difference” in Turgeon’s view on another white-knuckle finish.
Jackson’s put-back and Dodd’s thunderous slam with 11:05 and 9:58 to go sparked the deciding 13-0 run that also featured a bucket from Jaylen Brantley (12 points off the bench), a put-back from Dodd and free throws Jackson and Huerter.
Maryland pushed their lead to 68-64 after free throws from Jackson, a three-point play by Brantley and a Dodd jumper, who accounted for seven of the Terrapins’ 20 points in the 20-4 run from the 11:05 mark to the 2:20 mark.
“He’s one of my favorite players,” said Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said of Dodd. “He impacts the game.”
Trimble finished with a team-high 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting, six rebounds and four assists. Dodd had 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting and eight rebounds. Cowan added 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting and five rebounds. Wiley notched five rebounds.
Jawun Evans had a game-high 16 points on 7-for-17 shooting for the Cowboys.
Maryland shot 41 percent from the floor on 24-for-59 shooting. Oklahoma State (7-2) also shot 41 percent on 27-for-66 shooting.
“This group of mine, it’s amazing what they do,” Turgeon said. “All these young, kids they keep battling. … We kept coming, we kept coming. Everybody in our circle, our team, knew we were going to win the game.”
Maryland will host Howard on Wednesday, December 7.
“We have to get better, we have to get better,” Turgeon said. “But we just keep figuring out how to win games. We’re going to gain a lot of confidence from this.”