COLLEGE PARK — Much like in their first showdown on Jan. 12, the Michigan men’s basketball team’s rematch with No. 6 Maryland was nothing short of a heavyweight fight.
Each team rode multiple momentum shifts, with most of the Wolverines’ punches coming from junior forward Mark Donnal and sophomore guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who combined for 41 points. And after limiting guard Melo Trimble to two points in the last meeting, Michigan’s defense held him to 3-for-10 shooting this time around.
But Maryland countered with its own one-two punch, composed of big men Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr. — who together scored 30 points and grabbed 11 boards — and also rode a strong effort from versatile wing Jake Layman, who made his first five shots of the game.
And this time around, the Terrapins punched harder, dashing the Wolverines’ chances of upsetting them for a second time this season.
Trailing 82-79 with under 30 seconds left, Michigan (9-6 Big Ten, 19-9 overall) had a chance to tie the game, but junior guard Derrick Walton Jr. was called for an offensive foul when he pushed off a Maryland defender under the basket. Despite a late 3-pointer from redshirt sophomore guard Duncan Robinson, the Terrapins hung on, and Trimble — who scored seven of his 14 points from the charity stripe — sealed an 86-82 victory from the free-throw line.
“Maryland was just better than us on too many plays to get the victory,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “We just didn’t have enough to get it done. Tough race down the stretch — ball didn’t bounce our way a couple times, other things didn’t go our way a couple times, and it just wasn’t enough to get the victory.”
Maryland (11-4, 23-5) had plenty of chances to pull away throughout, but the Wolverines wouldn’t let them. Donnal made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc in the game, at times singlehandedly carrying the offense and scoring six straight points in one memorable stretch.
“There’s another gear for Mark that you saw today,” Beilein said. “He’s got a fifth gear that can make him a really good college basketball player. … I was dialing him up today — usually that hasn’t been as successful when I did that, but he’s ready to do that now. It changes our whole team.”
Abdur-Rahkman also provided his share of heroics, stealing an inbounds pass midway through the second half and hitting a layup to give the Wolverines four points in seconds. He later was fouled on a made layup and knocked down the ensuing free throw to give Michigan a 73-72 lead — its last lead of the game before Carter won a tip drill at the rim to put Maryland back on top for good.
The game had the makings of a shootout from the beginning. Both teams traded blows to start the game tied at 12 points apiece, with Robinson — who hit five 3-pointers in the Wolverines’ upset of the Terrapins in January — scoring seven quick points and showing off a rare inside game with two layups.
But after a seven-and-a-half-minute stretch in which Michigan missed 13 straight field goals and fell victim to a 17-1 Maryland run, the contest took on the look of the Wolverines’ blowout home losses to Indiana and Michigan State two weeks ago.
This time, though, Michigan refused to allow the first-half run to put the nail in its coffin. Walton started cold, but he ended the Terrapins’ scoring run with a layup and later picked Trimble’s pocket for a contested fast-break layup as part of a 7-0 Wolverine run. Walton and seldom-used sophomore forward Kam Chatman also knocked down two 3-pointers apiece late in the half to leave Michigan trailing by just five points heading into the break.
“I’m proud of our kids, the way they battled (after) we got ourselves in a little trouble in the first half,” Beilein said. “Thank goodness, because that thing can go the wrong way very quickly in this building and with their team.”
The Wolverines ended up showing a similar fight right until the end, outscoring the Terrapins in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to secure a potential NCAA Tournament résumé-boosting win with just three games remaining on the regular-season schedule.
The loss was the end of two notable streaks for Michigan. With Walton’s offensive foul marking his fifth of the game, it was the first time all season a Wolverine has fouled out; it was also the first time Michigan has lost under Beilein when scoring 80 points or more.