Sunday, November 27, 2016

Trimble's heroics carry Maryland to Barclays Center Classic championship

Maryland accepts Barclays Center Classic championship after Melo Trimble's go-ahead layup proves to be deciding factor in 69-68 victory over Kansas State. (Photo by CSN Mid Atlantic)

BROOKLYN -- Just a subway ride away Friday night, a man known simply as "Melo" to his legions of fans drained a game-winning shot for the New York Knicks.

No sooner than 24 hours later, in the home of the Big Apple's other NBA franchise, another Melo; this one in the college ranks, followed suit with heroics of his own.

The comparisons to Carmelo Anthony will probably end there for Melo Trimble, at least for the moment, but Maryland's junior guard was content with deciding the final outcome on a go-ahead layup with 6.6 seconds remaining in regulation as his Terrapins outlasted Kansas State to capture the Barclays Center Classic championship by the final of 69-68.

"Just don't settle," Trimble said of his mindset before recording the last of his 18 points and ultimately receiving Most Outstanding Player honors in the two-day event, which saw him tie a career-high with 31 points in Friday's overtime victory against Richmond. "I've been through that situation since I've been at Maryland. I just know the best decision, and when the game is like that, it's just 'go to the basket.'"

Trimble's dramatic crescendo was preceded by yet another determined rally from the All-America candidate just seconds before, when his penultimate bucket brought the Terps (6-0) within one of Kansas State with 20.1 seconds on the clock, throwing a major wrench into the Wildcats' second half comeback and bringing a largely pro-Maryland crowd to life for a thrilling climax of a seesaw battle.

Following Trimble's score to make it a 68-67 game, Kansas State (6-1) flirted with disaster, appearing to step on the baseline but playing on after the officials did not notice the apparent turnover. Maryland then fouled Wesley Iwundu, (16 points, 11 rebounds) only for the senior forward to miss the front end of a one-and-one, affording Trimble the opportunity to play the hero.

"We knew what was coming," said a dejected Bruce Weber of what turned out to be the game-winning basket. "He just gets a head of steam. He gets his body into you and draws fouls, makes plays. He's good at it."

Besides Trimble, Michal Cekovsky had a career night, and was quite instrumental in the Terps' efforts. The 7-foot-1 junior eclipsed personal bests with 16 points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes of action, slowly emerging to be one of the more significant pieces in the winning cause as chants of "Ceko" filled the air midway through the second half.

"He's not even close to where he was before he got hurt," head coach Mark Turgeon said of Cekovsky's production. "He was hurt for about 10 weeks, but he's got fresh legs now."

The Wildcats still had a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat after Trimble, who was fouled by D.J. Johnson; whose 26 points led all scorers, on his way to the basket. Although he missed the free throw, Barry Brown's three-point attempt for the win grazed the left side of the rim and bounced out, triggering a celebration on the Maryland end of the floor.

"We drew it up in the timeout," said Turgeon, describing the play that accounted for the sixth and final lead change of a game in which neither team led by more than nine points at any given time. "Everybody ran it to perfection. The only thing that was different was I thought we might be throwing it in off an inbounds instead off of a miss. When I saw Damonte (Dodd) set the perfect screen and perfect timing, I just knew he was going to do what he does."

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