ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Maryland men's basketball guard Melo Trimble slashed into the lane late in the first half Saturday afternoon, weaving between Michigan defenders on his way to scoring an uncontested layup. On the next possession, Trimble used his vision to find Kevin Huerter on the right wing. The freshman guard drilled the 3-pointer, increasing the Terps' lead to 37-26 and prompting the Wolverines to use a timeout.
Trimble's efforts gave Maryland its largest lead of the first half, but the Terps' built their first-half advantage without much help from their star. The junior's finger roll was his first points of the game, and he entered intermission 1 of 6 from the field.
Trimble responded in the second half by hitting two three-pointers and finishing at the rim for 13 points in Maryland's 77-70 win. But with their leader struggling early on, the Terps relied on a few unusual offensive contributors to propel them in their first true road game of the year.
Center Damonte Dodd and guard Jared Nickens shouldered the scoring load before the break, and coach Mark Turgeon's team used its early cushion to hold off the Wolverines, an appropriate response after dropping a home game to Nebraska on Sunday.
"I just stayed confident in myself and my teammates, and they believed in me as well and also stayed confident in me," Trimble said. "When games don't go my way and we have teammates around me that build me up and myself be a good leader, the outcome is going to be what it was today."
While Trimble has starred for the Terps (14-2, 2-1 Big Ten) in his third season, Nickens has spent much of this campaign competing for playing time in a crowded backcourt. Known as a sharpshooter, Nickens entered Saturday shooting 26.2 percent from three-point range, a mark that has kept the 6-foot-7 junior on the bench for extended periods.
But the Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, native channeled his freshman-year success against the Wolverines (11-5, 1-2), making his four three-pointers to finish with a season-high 12 points on 17 minutes. Dodd, who averaged 5.9 points per game entering the contest, and freshman forward Justin Jackson joined Trimble in double figures with 15 points apiece.
Forward Moritz Wagner scored 17 points to lead the Wolverines, who shot 61.5 percent in the second half but never took the lead.
"I thought we were the deeper team today, and our guys were great in the first half. They gave us great depth," Turgeon said. "We had some good fresh legs down the stretch."
With Trimble struggling to find his shot, he deferred to Dodd, who returned to the starting lineup after missing five games with a sprained MCL and playing sparingly against Nebraska on Sunday. Dodd scored eight points in the opening seven minutes, an ode to the Terps' focus on not settling for outside jumpers. During that stretch, the Terps hoisted one three-point attempt.
This strategy opened perimeter shots for the backcourt, and the unit capitalized by making four of its six three-pointers in the first half, starting with Nickens' triple midway about 10 minutes into the game.
After the break, Maryland went without a field goal for the opening five-and-a-half minutes. Trimble missed two jumpers and committed a turnover to start the period. The Terps scored one point in their first nine possessions, allowing the Wolverines to go on a 9-1 run and cut the deficit to one.
Nickens ended the field-goal drought with a three from the right wing — one of 10 the Terps made in their 66.7-percent performance from deep — and his shot represented a pattern that developed throughout the second half. Whenever the Wolverines pulled close, Maryland made a play.
Trimble chipped in, but he wasn't the lone late scorer like he's been for many of Maryland's close wins during the nonconference slate.
In the final minutes, Dodd threw down a dunk and Jackson supplied a jumper. With the Terps ahead, 73-70, with about 30 seconds remaining, freshman guard Anthony Cowan (nine points) knocked down a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game.
The Wolverines hoisted a desperation three moments later, but the shot caromed off the back iron and into Jackson's hands. As he prepared to extend his team's lead at the line, fans clad in blue and yellowed began flooding out of the Crisler Center in disappointment.
He sunk both, putting the finishing touches on a efficient and balanced offensive performance that lacked Trimble's dominance.
"It gives us confidence," Dodd said about multiple players contributing down the stretch. "It gives Melo confidence to know that once he comes off the ball screen, he can hit someone … and they'll finish plays or get fouled."