Maryland nearly became the latest Big Ten team to suffer an unbelievable NCAA tournament collapse, but it weathered South Dakota State just enough to save the conference further postseason embarrassment.
The Terps almost blew an 18-point second-half lead but hung on just long enough for a 79-74 win that advanced them to the Round of 32.
Maryland led by 12 at the half and seemed to have little troubling putting away South Dakota State, building a lead that hit 18 on multiple occasions throughout the second half while limiting the underdogs to a low shooting percentage. The Terps led the Jackrabbits, 64-46, with under nine minutes to play, but that's when things turned around. South Dakota State went on a 19-6 run to trim Maryland's lead all the way down to five with three minutes remaining. It was a five-point lead when Melo Trimble fouled a 3-point shooter — George Marshall, a Chicago native — and fouled out of the game. Marshall hit all three free throws to make it 72-70 with 43 seconds left, but then he fouled out of the game moments later when he was whistled for an off-ball foul on Jake Layman. The controversial call might have changed the game.
Layman hit two free throws to make it a four-point edge for the Terps, and two more Layman free throws with 18 seconds left to make it a five-point game. But it wasn't over yet, Maryland again inexplicably fouling a 3-point shooter, leading to three free-throw makes for South Dakota State. After Jaylen Brantley split a pair from the line, the Jackrabbits had a chance to tie the game with a 3, but the ball stuck and they for some reason didn't use their one remaining timeout. Rasheed Sulaimon came away with a steal and a dunk to seal it for the Terps.
[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Terps gear right here]
Over the final eight minutes and 50 seconds of the game, Maryland was just 3-for-10 from the field and 0-for-5 from 3-point range, while South Dakota State was 6-for-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from 3-point range. The Terps went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line, while the Jackrabbits were 12-for-13.
Maryland shot 51.1 percent on the game, while South Dakota State shot just 40.7 percent. The Jackrabbits hit 10 3-pointers on the game, with the Terps hitting nine.
Layman had a huge performance, scoring 27 points on 7-for-11 shooting including 5-for-8 shooting from behind the 3-point line and 8-for-8 shooting from the free-throw line. Trimble finished with 19 points, and Jared Nickens had 14 points off the bench, hitting four 3s. Diamond Stone, who battled foul trouble, scored just four points.
Maryland advanced to the Round of 32 with the win. It will take on Hawaii on Sunday after the Warriors upset No. 4-seed California on Friday.