COLLEGE PARK -- After losing Thursday to a Minnesota team that was previously winless in Big Ten play, Sunday against Michigan was about as close to a must-win game as Maryland has had this season.
They got it.
After a second-half battle that saw momentum swing back and forth, Maryland was able to close out the Wolverines down the stretch in a crucial 86-82 victory on Sunday in College Park.
Four Terrapins were in double figures, led by 17 points from Robert Carter, Jr. on 8-of-13 shooting. Jake Layman had 16. Melo Trimble found his offensive groove again with 14.
Junior Mark Donnal was the unlikely offensive centerpiece for the Wolverines, stretching the floor to score 25 points.
Here are 5 things you need to know.
1) Absorbing early punches
On Thursday, Minnesota was hot from the perimeter and Maryland could not respond. On Sunday, Michigan hit two threes in the first four minutes but the Terrapins did not lay down. Credit Jake Layman in part for that.
He hit a three off great ball movement to the corner, then blocked a shot, ran back the other direction and laid the ball in plus the foul. That set the tone.
Ball movement was on another level. Damonte Dodd put a lid on the rim in the first eight minutes. The defense turned into offense in transition. After the game was tied, 12-12, Maryland ripped off a 14-0 run to take command. Michigan went more than seven minutes without a made field goal during that stretch.
2) Hello from the bench
Over the last two games, Maryland bench as a whole had produced six points. On Sunday against Michigan, they were integral to the hot start. With Diamond Stone back in the lineup, Dodd could go back to what he excels at -- playing defense and rebounding.
It should be considered a win if Jaylen Brantley can simply hold the fort while Melo Trimble gets a breather. Sunday, he was an asset. While Trimble went to the bench in the first half, Brantley stepped in and played with confidence. He had five straight points in a key early stretch.
In the first half, Jared Nickens equaled his point total from the previous four games combined (6).
3) Persistent problems let Michigan back into it
If there were two issues that continually allow teams to stay in game against Maryland, those problems would be turnovers and the opponent’s ability to shoot from the outside. After that 14-0 run that swung momentum in Maryland’s favor, the Wolverines started hitting shots.
Michigan hit five threes in the final six minutes of the first half and closed the halftime gap to five after trailing by as many as 16. The Wolverines finished 13-of-27 from deep.
Diamond Stone’s return was clearly important to the overall offensive flow, though, and his 10 points in the first helped to stem the tide.
4) Shootout out of halftime, so enter Jake Layman.
The way the early part of the second half was playing out, it seemed like neither team would ever get a stop. Defense was such a catalyst in the first half for Maryland that the lack of it affected its offense in the second half.
Then Maryland, with help from Jake Layman, pushed back. The Terrapins led by as many as eight with 8:59 to go before that outside shooting and turnover conversion got the Wolverines back into it.
5) The final stretch
Maryland led by one point at the under-four timeout of this game. Over the past two years, this is where the poise and control of guard Melo Trimble has helped the Terrapins close games. Of late, though, this turnover bug and uncharacteristic bout of shot selection have plagued him.
Robert Carter, Jr. was the difference maker in the final minutes. He had six points in the final 4:46, including an effort to crash the board. Rasheed Sulaimon hit two big free throws to extend the lead to five with less than 20 seconds to play before Duncan Robinson’s three cut it two with 6.9 left.
Who else but Melo Trimble hit two free throws to make it a four-point game and seal the deal.