That's cold: MSU loses on last-second bucket
College Park, Md. — In the end on Saturday afternoon, there was one glaring difference between Michigan State and Maryland.
In a back-and-forth battle that was rarely pretty but always intense, it was junior guard Melo Trimble that made the big play in the end, the star player burying a 25-foot shot with 1.1 seconds to play to give Maryland a 63-60 victory over Michigan State in the final game of the regular season.
The Spartans had huge games from freshmen Nick Ward and Miles Bridges as Ward scored 22 and pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds with Bridges adding 18 points and eight rebounds. But with the game tied at 60, Michigan State went scoreless for the final 3:12, missing open looks three times and turning it over another possession, opening the door for Trimble’s heroics.
“I thought our execution was really good on a lot of plays we ran,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I couldn’t ask for more of my team except to make a few easier shots. But give them credit. I think we defended as well as we wanted to defend it. I had no problem with that. A great player made a great play.”
The play handed Michigan State (18-13, 10-8 Big Ten) its second straight loss and assures the Spartans can be no better than the fifth seed at next week’s Big Ten tournament. They could also end up at No. 6 or No. 7 depending on how Sunday’s games play out.
But dealing with that would come later. Instead, the Spartans spent the rest of Saturday evening knowing they had every chance to win. However, Bridges and Alvin Ellis both missed 3-pointers in the final minutes and Ward missed a jump hook in the lane. Later, Ward mishandled a pass from Cassius Winston and the shot clock ran out.
“I don’t care about having a big game,” Ward said. “I wanted to win. It was my fault at the end. I should have caught that pass. The (shot on the previous possession) was terrible. It slipped out of my hands but I should have made it.”
Trimble finished with 16 points for Maryland (24-7, 12-6) while Justin Jackson scored 15 and Anthony Cowan added 11 as the Terrapins will finish no worse than a tie for second place in the Big Ten.
“Today there were two teams that really guarded each other and played physically,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “Obviously happy for Melo making that shot and getting it done. It’s been an amazing year.”
Neither team ever had firm control of the game as each team struggled early, shooting less than 35 percent in the opening 20 minutes. Bridges scored 11 to lead the Spartans, though he was on the bench in the final minutes as Michigan State was down one with three minutes to play but went to the break with a 28-27 lead.
Kyle Ahrens put Michigan State ahead, 25-23, on a 3-pointer from the wing that was followed by a pair of Maryland free throws. Winston then nailed a 3-pointer followed by a pair of free throws from Trimble to close out the scoring.
Maryland appeared to take control early in the second half with a 12-2 run that turned a 33-31 deficit into a 43-35 lead after a 3-pointer from Trimble.
However, Michigan State started to chip away and when Bridges hit a 3-pointer it started a 9-0 run that gave the Spartans a 46-45 lead with 10 minutes to play. Maryland answered with five straight to take a 50-46 lead with 8:50 left before the Spartans scored five in a row. However, Bridges’ 3-pointer was answered by Jackson to give the Terps a 53-51 lead.
Maryland extended that lead to 55-51 on a layup from Ivan Bender and made it 58-53 after a 3-pointer from Jackson.
But Ward then got a dunk and a 3-point play to tie it at 58 with 3:46 to play. The teams traded baskets before Michigan State called timeout with 1:16 to play when Ward go the ball near the basket and missed before the shot-clock violation set up Maryland’s final shot.
Trimble said his coach wanted him to drive the ball, but he felt good taking the shot.
“I think of myself as a great shooter,” Trimble said. “Obviously, I couldn’t make every shot but I felt in rhythm and I made it.”
That was it. Maryland’s veteran came up big when the Terps needed it most.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Turgeon said. “I told Melo to drive it but he shot the three. He made it. I’ve always enjoyed coaching, but this is one of the most coachable teams I’ve ever had. Now we have our swagger back and we’re feeling better about ourselves heading into the postseason.”
Despite the loss, so is Michigan State. It won six of its final 10 games and while still on the NCAA Tournament bubble the Spartans feel far better about themselves than a few weeks back.
“Yeah, for sure we can bounce back,” Bridges said. “That’s what we’ve done all year. We take a loss and then bounce back. We want to go far in (the Big Ten) tournament and we’ve just go to play Spartan basketball.”