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Wells makes all the plays in Maryland’s Big Ten debut

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Every time the Maryland Terrapins needed a big play in their Big Ten debut, Dez Wells answered the call.

Wells hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation. He made two free throws in the final minute of the first overtime session to tie it again. He then punctuated his clutch performance with a steal and dunk in the second overtime as the No. 12 Terrapins edged Michigan State 68-66 on Tuesday at the Breslin Center.

“Dez wasn’t great at times, he made seven turnovers, but he’s our guy,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “We believe in him.”

Wells, a senior small forward, also grabbed seven rebounds and had a team-high five assists for the Terrapins (13-1), who won their sixth straight. More impressively was the fact that Wells was playing in just his second game after missing the previous seven with a fractured right wrist.

The Spartans were clinging to a 48-45 lead in the closing seconds of regulation when Wells rose up from the left wing and drilled his only three of the game.

“I was confident I’d make that shot,” said Wells, sporting a large ice bag on his still healing wrist. “I would like to have the ball in my hands in that situation. We have other guys who can make plays but if the ball is in my hands, I’m going to make a play.”

Freshman guard Melo Trimble supplied 17 points, 12 from the free throw line, for the longtime ACC program. The Terrapins didn’t shoot a free throw during a low-scoring first half but went 26-for-32 from the line after halftime and scored 13 of their 20 points after regulation on free throws.

“No one’s guarded us as well as they guarded us,” Turgeon said. “We kept trying to figure out ways to score and finally figured it out by just getting to the foul line, spreading the floor and driving it.”

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was frustrated by the foul calls but still felt Maryland earned the victory.

“We didn’t play good enough to win,” Izzo said. “They played better, they got to loose balls. They just looked a little fresher.”

No one had more bounce in his step than Wells, who played 40 minutes while working himself back into shape.

“I love guys that are warriors,” Izzo said. “He’s diving on the floor. He’s got a broken wrist and he still makes a three. I was really impressed by how hard he played and how much he played. He’s got some dog in him.”

Guard Travis Trice’s career-high 26 points led the Spartans (9-5) in their Big Ten opener.

Power forward Branden Dawson, who missed the previous two games with a non-displaced fracture of his left wrist, had nine points and 11 rebounds for Michigan State. Guard and leading scorer Denzel Valentine was held to four points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field before fouling out in overtime.

“We had our chances and didn’t close the door,” Izzo said. “One of my best players was on the bench and that didn’t help.”

Wells made two free throws with 3:15 remaining in the second overtime to give Maryland a 58-57 edge. He then stripped Trice and dunked for a three-point lead, and the Terrapins held on the rest of the way.

Maryland trailed by four late in the first overtime, but forward Jon Graham made a layup and Wells hit free throws to tie it again. Michigan State guard Bryn Forbes missed a corner shot as time expired.

The Spartans led for a majority of the second half.

Trice hit two free throws with 36 seconds left for a 47-45 Spartans lead. Maryland missed two shots on its next possession, but Michigan State center Matt Costello only made one of two free throws with 11.6 seconds remaining.

After a timeout, Wells fired in his 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

Neither team found any offensive flow during the opening 20 minutes as Maryland emerged with a 17-14 advantage. It was easily the lowest-scoring half of the season for both clubs.

NOTES: Michigan State had a 12-game winning streak in Big Ten openers and was 17-2 under coach Tom Izzo. … Maryland’s No. 12 ranking is its highest since it was ranked 12th on Nov. 29, 2004. … Maryland PF and

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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