Nebraska pushed No. 15 Maryland to the limit and had a chance to tie the game in the final 30 seconds, but the Terrapins held on for a 69-65 victory Thursday evening.
Trailing 65-62 with 28.9 seconds left after Walter Pitchford’s fifth 3-pointer of the night, the Huskers called timeout to set up a full court press. Benny Parker then stole the inbounds pass, but as Tai Webster drove to the basket, the sophomore lost the ball and the Huskers were forced to foul.
Melo Trimble then capped a 26-point night with a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left, as he went 10-of-11 from the line to help Maryland hit 21-of-24 from the line.
Trimble carried Maryland (22-5, 10-4 Big Ten) to victory with 26 points on 7-of-9 shooting, six rebounds and five assists to pace three Terrapins in double figures.
The win offset a strong effort from a pair of Husker reserves, as Walter Pitchford and Nick Fuller turned in strong performances in a losing effort, as the Huskers fell to 13-13 and 5-9 in the Big Ten. Pitchford came off the bench with 19 points, including five 3-pointers and seven rebounds, while Fuller, seeing the most extensive time of his career, set career bests with 12 points and five boards in 26 minutes.
In all, the Husker bench outscored Maryland, 36-6, on a night where Terran Petteway was held to eight points, but dished out a career-high nine assists and had two steals. Shavon Shields was the third Husker in double figures with 13 points and six rebounds.
Nebraska tied the score at 54-all after a Petteway basket with 5:32 left, before the Terrapins used an 8-0 spurt to put the game away. Wells gave Maryland the lead for good with a pair of free throws with 4:27 left, before Trimble came through. The freshman hit a pair of long 3-pointers to beat the shot clock, the second with 2:18 remaining to stake Maryland a 62-54 lead.
The Huskers would not go away quietly, as Pitchford scored eight straight points for Nebraska, the last being his 3-pointer with 28.9 seconds left to give the Huskers a chance.
Nebraska played one of its best first halves on the road this year, shooting 44 percent and was within 34-33 at the half. The Huskers got a big boost off the bench, getting 22 points from the reserves, including 11 from Pitchford and six from Fuller. The pair also combined for seven rebounds to help Nebraska control the boards, 15-11 in the opening stanza.
Maryland got off to a roaring start, hitting six of its first seven shots from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers, to jump out to a 14-5 lead after a Tremble jumper with 15:32 left in the half. Maryland finished the half shooting 52 percent, including 8-of-9 from the foul line.
The Huskers began to battle back with the effort of its bench, as a 3-pointer from Walter Pitchford and a layup from Benny Parker keyed a spurt as Nebraska pulled within 16:11 after a Petteway free throw with 11:07 left in the half.
The Terrapins came right back and got the lead to 27-19 after a Jake Layman steal and basket and eventually got the lead to 32-12 after a Dez Wells jumper with 5:26 left in the half to force the Huskers to take a timeout. Wells and Layman had 14 points apiece for Maryland.
Nebraska then dominated the final five minutes, using a 12-2 run over the final 5:01 of the half, including the final six points to close within one. The run began with 3-pointers from Petteway and Pitchford, who was 3-of-5 from long range in the first half, before Nick Fuller closed the half with consecutive baskets, including a putback with one second left in the half to make it a one-point margin.
Nebraska continued the momentum early in the half, taking the lead for the first time since the opening minutes on a Fuller 3-pointer with 19:13 left and pushed the lead to 38-34 after a steal and layup by freshman Tarin Smith, who made his first start.
The lead would be short lived, as Maryland ran off 10 straight points, including consecutive 3-pointers from Jake Layman and Richaud Pack to take a 44-38 lead.
Nebraska trailed 49-42, but would fight back, running off six straight points to get within 49-48 after a Leslee Smith basket with 9:48 left and the game would be close until the final seconds.
The Huskers return home on Sunday to host Iowa on Legends Weekend. Over 50 former players will be back for the festivities, as tipoff is set for 2 p.m. from Pinnacle Bank Arena. The game will be on BTN and the Husker Sports Network.