INDIANAPOLIS — The Terps’ Damonte Dodd’s second free throw rattled off the rim and Nebraska was about to get the ball back, down seven with a little less than a minute left. Maryland was in danger of losing another heartbreaker.
The struggling Terrapins, losers of four of their previous six games, needed someone to put the team on his back to get to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
In came senior forward Jake Layman, who soared for the missed free throw and tipped it back to teammate Rasheed Sulaimon for the offensive rebound. And that secured a 97-86 victory late Friday night over the Cornhuskers in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.
Maryland faces the Michigan State Spartans at 3:30 p.m. (EST) today.
Layman spearheaded an offensive charge in the first ten minutes of the game with 14 points.
“Well, I was feeling it,” Layman said about his quick start. “And I said to Melo (Trimble), you had better run this next play for me, too.”
The senior forward finished with 26 points, one shy of his career-best. He was six-for-nine on three-point attempts and eight of 13 overall.
Layman hadn’t scored 20 points or more since a 23-point outburst last season against Michigan State.
“Jake (Layman) got hot. Jake made shots,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “He missed a couple that looked good that could have gone in. So he got hot.”
Maryland as a team came out firing in the first half, scoring 54 points in the first half on 73 percent shooting from the field and 91 percent from beyond the arc.
The second half was easy sailing for Maryland until a late rally by the Huskers narrowed the Terps’ lead to six points with 90 seconds remaining.
“I’m going to give Nebraska credit. They were terrific. They made tough shots,” Turgeon said. “Maybe we let down a little bit.”
The Terrapins were able to hold on by securing a few offensive rebounds and making their free throws. Maryland also made conference history in the final seconds: its 97 points were the most in Big Ten tournament history.
The Terps and Spartans are in a rematch: on Jan. 23 in East Lansing, MSU prevailed 74-65. No. 1 seed Indiana fell to No. 8 Michigan Friday afternoon, leaving No. 2 Michigan State and No. 3 Maryland as the highest seeds left in the tournament.
“(The Spartans) are a very good transition team on offense,” Trimble said. “We’re going to try to slow them down, and they’re very disciplined on defense.”
Michigan State cruised to a 81-54 victory against Ohio State Friday night. The Spartans have only lost one game since February.
Maryland and Michigan State played last year in the Big Ten semifinals as well. In that showdown, the Terrapins fell to the Spartans 62-58.
“It’s nice to play and win,” Turgeon said. “So hopefully that will give us momentum going in (Saturday).”