The No. 6 Maryland Terrapins fought back from an 11-point halftime deficit but still came out on the losing end against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 68-63, at Minneapolis' Williams Arena on Thursday.
NCAA March Madness noted the unexpected outcome:
SHELL SHOCKED!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 19, 2016
Minnesota snaps 14-game losing streak with stunning 68-63 win over No. 6 Maryland. pic.twitter.com/5H9hWUNTpY
It was the first victory in 14 conference games for Minnesota, and Maryland dropped its second straight game to fall to 10-4 in Big Ten play.
With Minnesota leading 54-50 with less than eight minutes to go, ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf posed an interesting question:
Maryland fans: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you trust your team right now?— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) February 19, 2016
As it turned out, the answer should have been "not at all." Before the game ended, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports sounded one of his Horrible Loss Alerts:
HLA Terps. Minnesota 40, Maryland 29 at half. Could do lasting damage to B1G title and No. 1 seed hopes.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) February 19, 2016
Jordan Murphy was the star for Minnesota, finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds, including this posterizing dunk, per the Big Ten Network:
He had another after teammate Dupree McBrayer found him open under the basket, per Minnesota on BTN:
Joey King's late free throws gave the Gophers a 61-60 lead they would not relinquish with 2:09 remaining. Just a minute earlier, Rasheed Sulaimon nailed a three-pointer for a 60-59 Maryland lead, its first since the game was 7-4.
Sophomore star Melo Trimble struggled Thursday, finishing with just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting, although he did have six rebounds and six assists. Holden Kushner of FanDuel noted his poor play:
Melo Trimble is going to be at Maryland as a senior if he keeps playing like this.— HoldenKushner (@Holdenradio) February 19, 2016
Sulaimon had a career-high 28 points, but the story was all about Murphy and Minnesota, which entered the game 0-13 in conference play. There was no stopping the crowd from celebrating this one, per the Big Ten Network:
It was a tough loss for a Maryland team that has ranked as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 and has Final Four aspirations. Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports Radio said the Terps will be OK despite the loss when answering a fan who asked if Maryland is still better than the No. 1 Villanova Wildcats:
yes. Maryland is better. plays to level of comp https://t.co/JedEfGqOXp— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) February 19, 2016
Both teams shot less than 40 percent from the floor, but the biggest difference in the game came from the free-throw line, where Minnesota hit 20 of 23 attempts, while Maryland connected on just 14 of 19. The Terrapins also turned it over 15 times, compared to just 11 for the Gophers.
The loss dropped Maryland, who was playing without the suspended Diamond Stone, into third place in the Big Ten, one game behind the Indiana Hoosiers and Iowa Hawkeyes. Minnesota has almost no chance of earning a bid to the NCAA tournament, but it likely did affect Maryland's seeding.
In a wild season that's seen the third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-ranked teams lose within the last two days, per ESPN Stats & Info, all the Terrapins can do is shake it off and move on to the next game.
With just three losses in its first 25 games, Maryland had all of the confidence in the world. Look for Thursday's loss to linger a bit as the Terps host the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday before traveling to play the No. 17 Purdue Boilermakers next weekend.
Minnesota, on the other hand, can celebrate this win, knowing it won't end the season with a goose egg in the win column.
It was jubilation for the Gophers after the game, while King—the only senior left on the team after Carlos Morris' dismissal—was glad to contribute to the victory, per ESPN.com: "We knew our time was coming," he said. "It just took a little longer than expected."
King was emotional while being interviewed on the court, per Minnesota on BTN:
Meanwhile, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon seemed at a loss for words, per ESPN.com.
"I've got to figure out a way to get us going again," he said. "We're not ourselves."
Sulaimon took a levelheaded approach to the loss, especially considering the number of top teams that have suffered head-scratching defeats this season, according to ESPN.com.
"We have a bad stretch right now," Sulaimon said. "This is the first real adversity that we've had. Every team goes through it. It's ebbs and flows in the season, we just got to figure it out."
To say Minnesota had a bad stretch is an understatement, but the double-digit losing streak is over, and head coach Richard Pitino joked he can now show his face in public, per ESPN.com.
"I can start going inside to Starbucks instead of going through the drive-thru," he said.