UM’s stout effort not enough vs. No. 6 Maryland
College Park, Md. — Michigan fought and fought and it fought some more.
It was a mighty impressive display.
But it wasn't enough, as, frankly, it sometimes isn't in the rock-'em, sock-'em Big Ten.
No. 6 Maryland was difficult to stop inside and outside all game long, and secured the 86-82 victory Sunday afternoon before a large and loud-as-could-be crowd at Xfinity Center -- the fans mighty forgiving of their team's loss to lowly Minnesota earlier in the week.
Michigan had the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining needing a 3-pointer to tie, but Derrick Walton Jr., driving to the basket, was called for the push-off -- a fifth foul, making him the first Michigan player to foul out this season.
"I was blinded by it," Michigan coach John Beilein said, describing what he saw. "We were trying to get a pick-and-pop situation where we could drive them and go downhill, find Mark (Donnal) at the rim.
"(Derrick) didn't get enough leverage, I guess, and then created his own foul, according to the official."
Michigan (19-9, 9-6 Big Ten) then had to foul, and facing a one-and-one, Rasheed Sulaimon made them both to seemingly all but ice it.
Duncan Robinson, though, then followed with an incredible 3, off-balance and with hands in his face, drawing "oooohs" from the crowd to make it 84-82.
Melo Trimble then made his first free throw and, after Beilein called a timeout, he made his second to seal the victory when Zak Irvin, for the second time in the half, turned the ball over on the inbounds, and Maryland fans kicked off the celebration.
It capped off an exciting game between the teams, who split the season series. Michigan stunned then-No. 3 Maryland at Crisler Center last month.
The Wolverines, given two days off this week after an ugly and lifeless loss to unranked Ohio State, looked refreshed, even in the loss.
"Any days off is good for the legs, so I think we came out with good energy," said Donnal, who had a monster game, with 25 points -- 21 in the second half.
"But unfortunately, we weren't able to execute down the stretch.”
Michigan finished with 16 turnovers -- Maryland actually had 18 -- including that pivotal Irvin inbounds, and Robinson also had a careless turnover in the second half, slamming the ball to the court in disgust.
The loss is the second in a row for Michigan, though the Wolverines looked a heck of a lot better than they did against Ohio State.
Michigan, squarely on the bubble for NCAA Tournament consideration, erased deficits of 16 in the first half -- with the help of the fourth and fifth 3-pointers for Kameron Chatman this season -- and eight in the second half, the latter sparked by Donnal, who was 10-for-13 shooting. Michigan made its first eight shots of the second half.
The first six points of the half were scored by Donnal, who never let up until he sat three minutes in the middle of the half after picking up his third foul.
Donnal re-entered with 9 minutes, 13 seconds left, and promptly scored Michigan's next six points to cut the deficit to 72-70.
Fans groaned after the P.A. announcer had to announce "Mark Donnal" a third time.
Beilein didn't bemoan sitting Donnal for those three-plus minutes.
"He's gonna have to have a rest anyhow," Beilein said. "Whether he's hot or not."
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman also was huge in the second half, with two significant steals near the Michigan basket, where he caught Maryland napping on the inbounds, leading to big Michigan points.
Abdur-Rahkman finished with 16 points, nine assists, and three steals, and Walton had 14 points and three steals before fouling out. Irvin scored 11, including a big 3 following that Robinson turnover, and Robinson had 10 and nine rebounds.
"We beat a really good team that played really, really well in Michigan," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "We showed some toughness."
Robert Carter scored 17 for Maryland (23-5, 11-4), and Jake Layman scored 16, including some big 3-pointers. Trimble had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Diamond Stone, returning from a one-game suspension, scored 14.
Maryland shot 54 percent for the game, and made 17 of 19 free throws.
Trimble was 7-for-8 from the free-throw line.
The Terrapins also had seven blocks, to the Wolverines' five -- all by Donnal, whose resurgence continued.
He wasn't much of a factor in the first half, as Michigan was in danger of getting run out of the building -- a very tough building to play in, as Maryland has lost here once since 2014. It went nearly eight minutes in the first half without a field goal, missing 13 in a row. Typically, when the Wolverines go ice cold like that, they don't usually recover. But the Wolverines closed the half making nine of their last 14, to trail by just five.
And then the teams went back in forth in the second half, like a heavyweight boxing match.
"Just knowing what happened Tuesday, we weren't really satisfied with our energy, what happened with Ohio State," said Chatman, whose minutes came in the first half, as all the timeouts allowed the starters plenty of rest in the second half. "We didn't want to make that mistake again.
"But we just couldn't make the plays to come out with the win."
The loss was the first in Beilein's nine seasons with Michigan scoring at least 80 points.
Michigan has three games left in the regular season, starting with a home game Wednesday against Northwestern -- that's the final seemingly sure victory of the regular season.
Then it travels to Wisconsin, which is playing as good as anybody in the conference, before closing at home against Iowa.
That's a tough stretch, but Michigan's playing a whole lot tougher right now.
Whether there's enough in the tank, with Caris LeVert possibly done for the season, to pick off the two more wins that likely would guarantee Michigan’s return to the NCAA Tournament, remains to be seen.
But Beilein sure saw some positives Sunday, as did a national television audience.
"We've gotta do more," Beilein said. "We're really growing in the battle. We're really growing."