BY DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The 13th-ranked basketball team in the country shouldn’t require a furious comeback and a very fortunate tip-in to beat a struggling squad at home.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon knows this. Yet he had absolutely no complaints after the Terrapins did exactly that to squeeze past Northwestern 68-67 on Sunday night.
Melo Trimble scored 27 points, and a put-back by Dez Wells with 1.4 seconds left enabled Maryland (18-3, 6-2 Big Ten) to avoid its first losing streak of the season.
“You’ve got to win games like that to have a great year,” Turgeon proclaimed after the Terrapins averted the upset.
Maryland never led until Trimble made two free throws with 21 seconds remaining to make it 66-65. After Tre Demps hit a jumper for the Wildcats, Trimble missed a 3-point try and Wells snared the rebound before scoring with a layup off the glass.
“He was going to get to that ball,” Turgeon said. “It was a big-time tip.”
Northwestern (10-10, 1-6) called timeout but could not get off a shot before the buzzer sounded.
There were several times during the game when it seemed Maryland was doomed. The Terrapins trailed by 14 in the first half and by 63-52 with 3:46 left.
But Trimble and Wells led the Terps back, with help from a 3-pointer by Jake Layman that cut the gap to 65-62 with 1:05 to go.
Trimble went 9 for 10 at the foul line and Wells scored 17 for the Terrapins, who bounced back after falling at Indiana by 19.
“This shows that this group is full of winners,” Turgeon said. “We have a lot of basketball ahead of us, but they never give up and figure out ways to win.”
Brian McIntosh scored 21 for the Wildcats, who have lost six in a row — the last three by a total of five points.
“The last step we have to jump up to is winning these games,” coach Chris Collins said. “I know a lot of guys in that locker room are hurting real bad.”
Sanjay Lumpkin scored 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting, including 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. Northwestern shot 70 percent before halftime, but made only 10 baskets on 25 tries over the final 20 minutes and finished with 17 turnovers.
“You have to finish the deal, especially in this league where you’re playing really good teams,” Collins said.
After going 16 for 23 from the floor in the first half, Northwestern went 0 for 4 with two turnovers at the outset of the second half.
That enabled Maryland to close to 41-35, but the Terrapins then committed four turnovers in a 38-second span and went scoreless for more than three minutes to fall behind by 12.
It was 54-42 with 12 minutes to go, and the Wildcats led by 11 before Maryland’s Evan Smotrycz made two free throws. Trimble followed with a 3-pointer, and a free throw by Wells cut it to 55-50 with 8:34 remaining.
But while the Terrapins failed to score over the next four minutes, McIntosh made two straight baskets after a layup by Alex Olah for a 61-50 lead.
That wasn’t enough to provide Northwestern with its first victory in 2015.
“It just shows our character, our true character as a team,” Wells said. “We stuck with it, we believed and we knew we could make it happen.”
McIntosh scored 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting in the first half, and the Wildcats limited Maryland to just 10 baskets and seven rebounds in going up 41-30.
Northwestern opened by making 10 of its first 13 shots from the floor, including 5 for 7 from 3-point range, for a 25-13 lead.
Wells then made a pair of three-point plays in a 9-2 spurt before Demps drilled a 3-pointer to ignite an 11-2 spree that made it 38-24.
Northwestern: McIntosh went 10 for 14 from the floor and played 37 minutes. “The kid is brilliant for a freshman,” Collins said.
Maryland: Trimble had three assists and four steals to go with his 27 points. “Melo Trimble was Melo Trimble, doing what he does,” Turgeon said.
Northwestern: The Wildcats got only four points from Olah, who averaged 17.3 points in his previous three games
Maryland: Layman scored only 8 points. He was averaging 17.5 points this season in games following a loss.
Northwestern: hosts Purdue on Saturday.
Maryland: faces Ohio State on the road Thursday night.