KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a radio interview Monday afternoon, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was asked for the keys to success for freshman point guard Melo Trimble.
“He just needs to stay calm and be Melo,” Turgeon said.
Melo stayed mellow Monday night. Trimble poured in 31 points and directed Maryland to a 78-73 victory over Arizona State in the semifinals of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Sprint Center. His cool demeanor with the game on the line was exactly what his coach had in mind.
With the game tied 73-all, Trimble fed swingman Dez Wells for a jumper in the lane that provided the winning margin.
“Melo’s a winner, and he does whatever he has to do to win the game,” Turgeon said. “We were going to Dez. I told the whole team. I told the staff. We were creating plays at the timeouts, drawing them up in the dirt. It worked. He hit a big-time shot in the lane. That’s not an easy shot.”
Wells finished with 14 points, but he was quick to give credit to his freshman teammate.
“I knew he would keep his cool,” he said. “He makes it easy for everyone else when you have a point guard who is so poised.”
Trimble was 7-of-11 from the field and made 4-of-6 from 3-point range. He also converted 13 of 14 free throws for the Terrapins (4-0)
The key for Maryland was controlling the inside. The Terrapins outrebounded the Sun Devils, 34-24 and kept them from scoring much inside. The Sun Devils were left to shoot from the outside, which they did exceptionally well. They were 14 of 27 from beyond the 3-point line.
But with the game on the line, Turgeon was glad Trimble had the ball in his hands.
“I’ve been watching Melo for four years, and he is who he is,” he said. “He made his first one. It kind of hit the rim and rolled in. I knew it was going to be his night.
“He got to the foul line, which he’s good at doing. He’s very composed; our whole team was. It’s hard when teams are whapping 3’s like that.”
Arizona State did not leave disappointed.
“Obviously we didn’t play perfect basketball, but I think our team played pretty good basketball,” Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said. “I thought both teams, for as early as it is in the season, played some good offensive basketball.
“(Trimble) had a terrific game. He had 31 points, and did a good job with the middle screen. I think he’s an elite shooter.”
Arizona State (3-1) was led by forward Jon Gilling’s 21 points, all from beyond the arc. Guard Bo Barnes had 17 and Eric Jacobsen and Gerry Blakes had 14 each.
Maryland will face the winner of the second semifinal between Alabama and No. 13 Iowa State Tuesday night in the championship game.
The second half was much closer than the first. Neither team led by more than five points.
Arizona State was hampered by poor free-throw shooting in the second half, when the Sun Devils went just 4 of 9. Midway through the second half, with Arizona State stuck on 62 points because of the missed free throws, Gilling and Barnes hit consecutive 3-pointers to erase a four-point deficit.
Maryland started slowly, going scoreless in the first four minutes before Trimble put the Terrapins on the board with a 3-pointer to cut the margin to 7-3. The Sun Devils led by as many as seven points on several occasions.
“I thought Arizona State was terrific,” Turgeon said. “They were ready to play and we weren’t. They were more physical at the start.”
But led by Trimble, who hit two free throws with just over six minutes left in the first half to tie the score for the first time at 31-31, the tide turned. The freebies gave Trimble 16 points, three more than his previous season high against Wagner in his college debut.
A 3-pointer by guard Bo Barnes gave Arizona State the lead again, before forward Jake Layman hit a pair of free throws and Trimble made a layup to give the Terps their first and only lead of the half.
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