EVANSTON — After starting the season at 13-1, there were still plenty wondering if Northwestern could run with the Big Ten’s big boys.
Well, Maryland — the No. 4 team in the country — provided an answer to that question Saturday night, cruising to a 72-59 win in Evanston.
The Terps were hot from 3-point range all night, hitting 11 deep balls on the evening, while the Cats struggled from behind the arc, making just two of their 20 attempts.
Turnovers hurt the Cats in the first half, as Maryland turned eight Northwestern turnovers into nine points. But it was red-hot shooting by the Terps that made the biggest difference. They shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, hitting five 3-pointers, while the Cats shot just 32 percent from the field, making just one 3. It all added app to a 20-point halftime gap between the two teams.
Rasheed Sulaimon was excellent for the Terps in the first half, scoring 13 points on perfect 5-for-5 shooting, including a trio of 3s. Melo Trimble started 0-for-4 from the field, four way-off 3-point attempts, but he corrected things and ended up scoring seven in the first half. Diamond Stone had eight first-half points.
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The Cats righted their ship a bit in the second half and showed off incredible fight for a team that trailed by as many as 22 points. Northwestern shot 41.2 percent in the second half and chipped into the Maryland lead. The Welsh-Ryan Arena crowd seemed to swell every time the Cats got as close as 14 or 15.
But the Terps seemingly had an answer at every juncture. Though their performance wasn’t as strong as it was in the opening 20 minutes, the Terps kept on knocking down 3-pointers. Trimble, Sulaimon and Jake Layman all hit 3s that quieted that loudening crowd. After knocking down five from deep in the first half, Maryland splashed home six more in the second half. All the while, Northwestern was ice cold from behind the arc, finishing the game just 2-for-20 from distance.
The Cats finished shooting 37.3 percent from the field and had 12 turnovers lead to 11 Terps points. Maryland finished with a 46.6-percent shooting mark.
Trimble finished as the game’s high man, scoring 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting, including 5-for-12 3-point shooting. He also had eight rebounds and eight assists, coming close to a triple-double. Sulaimon scored 16 points, hitting four 3-pointers, grabbing six rebounds and handing out six assists. Stone had 10 points off the bench.
Bryant McIntosh was Northwestern’s scoring leader with 17 points, also handing out nine assists and grabbing five rebounds. He was the only Cat in double figures.
The loss was just Northwestern’s second of the season, sending the Cats to a 13-2 mark overall and an even 1-1 in Big Ten play. Both losses have come against highly ranked teams, the first coming against North Carolina. Next up is a Wednesday game against Ohio State.
Maryland improved to 13-1 overall and 2-0 in league play with the victory. The Terps play Rutgers on Wednesday.