SPOKANE, Wash. -- This was right where Maryland was last season, with one game to win to send themselves to the Sweet 16 and a matchup against the No. 1 overall seed in the bracket.
Maryland didn’t let this chance slip away.
Thanks to a monster 17-2 run in the second half that broke open a game that had been a defensive battle up to that point, Maryland pulled away from a pesky and upset-minded Hawaii team, 73-60, on Sunday night in Spokane. They now advance to the Sweet 16 to face Kansas.
Melo Trimble led the way with 24 points. Rasheed Sulaimon and Diamond Stone each had 14. Here are five things you need to know.
1) Ice cold out of the gate
Maryland was 1-of-9 from the floor to start, including its first six shots from three. Hawaii outrebounded them 10-3 early. The Rainbow Warriors had multiple possessions where they had two or even three opportunities off of offensive rebounds. Diamond Stone dropped a rebound off his foot and it went out of bounds.
Hawaii played off of that tentativeness to get its small but vocal section of the crowd into the game.
2) Getting back into it
After getting the initial jitters out of their system, Maryland started to pound the ball on the inside. Stone was a massive part of that. Maryland fed the ball into the paint and went right at Hawaii star Stefan Jankovic. That forced him to make a decision -- lock down on Stone or risk committing a foul?
When trailing 13-6, Maryland used a 12-2 run to flip the game into an 18-15 lead.
3) Playing to near-even at the half
For all of the mistakes and problems that plagued Maryland in the first half, to lead by one point should be a minor victory for the Terrapins. They got the jitters out of their system. They understood what Hawaii would throw at them. They got a feel for how Jankovic would attack.
The game essentially reset at halftime.
4) The answer is in transition -- with a catalyst
Hawaii’s half-court defense is suffocating. They rank 11th in the country in defensive efficiency for a reason. The Terrapins were not hitting threes. The best way to attack aggressive defense is to get out on the break and give yourself numbers, which means a mismatch in your favor and easier points.
The only way to do that is to force turnovers or close out defensive possessions with rebounds and run out quickly the other way. With Trimble or Sulaimon leading the break, Maryland attacked the rim and got points they badly needed.
5) The difference makers
Robert Carter, Jr. had about as sensational a defensive game on Hawaii star Stefan Jankovic as the Terrapins could have hoped for. Before fouling out with 1:55 to play, Jankovic had 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting from the floor. Of his three threes, one was a stepback over Diamond Stone. Another was from near the start of the mid-court logo at the top of the key.
Hawaii came into this game ranked 214th in the country in foul shooting at 69 percent. Maryland ranked 11th at 76.5 percent. Hawaii tried to press, but Maryland kept its head on straight and for the most part did not turn the basketball over.
Those all combined to allow Maryland to seal the deal late.