Back and forth they went Saturday afternoon, Michigan State’s Big Ten Tournament seeding teetering at Maryland.
It came down to two possessions. And the Spartans fumbled away their chances for a double-by next week.
Cassius Winston lost track of the shot clock and his late pass to an open Nick Ward slipped out of bounds as the horn sounded with 6.3 seconds to play. Then, Maryland’s Melo Trimble drained a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left, and Miles Bridges’ shot to tie it clanged off the rim as time expired in the Spartans’ 63-60 loss at Xfinity Center.
MSU (18-13, 10-8 Big Ten) will finish as either the No. 5, 6 or 7 seed for the tournament after its second straight defeat to close the regular season.
Ward led the Spartans with 22 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, keeping them in it with nine straight points over a 2-minute span. Bridges had 18 points and eight rebounds.
Ward and Trimble each missed lay-ups, with the Spartans getting the ball with 25.1 seconds remaining.
After the MSU tunrover, the Terrapins received the ball with 6.3 seconds left under their own basket.
Trimble took the pass, dribbled up the left sideline and buried a three-pointer as the crowd erupted.
After refs checked the clock, Kenny Goins’ long inbounds pass landed in the hands of a leaping Bridges at the top of the key. He turned and got the shot off, but missed slightly to the left.
Trimble scored 16 points, while Justin Jackson had 15 and Anthony Cowan 11 for the Terrapins (24-7, 12-6).
A back-and-forth half featured plenty of bad shooting – neither team eclipsed 35% – and some significant foul trouble for the Spartans in the one spot they couldn’t afford it.
Ward got his second foul with 4:15 left before halftime. Goins picked up his third 58 seconds later. Then Bridges missed a bank shot, and Izzo pulled him as well with 2:44 left and the Terps up a point.
The lineup of Cassius Winston, Alvin Ellis, Matt McQuaid, Kyle Ahrens and Matt Van Dyk then went on a 6-4 run to close the half, with Ahrens and Winston each hitting three-pointers, to somehow send the Spartans into the break leading 28-27.
Before that closing stretch, Bridges was MSU’s lone scoring threat. He was 4-for-9 for 11 points with five rebounds. The Spartans’ four freshmen made 9-of-23 shots in the half, while their upperclassmen were 2-for-10.
Defensively, MSU did manage to limit Maryland to 3-of-13 three-point shooting in the first half, one of Izzo’s primary keys. The Spartans also outrebounded the Terps 19-18 while committing just four turnovers and turning five Maryland giveaways into four points.
The Terrapins jumped in front and built an eight-point lead on Trimble’s three-pointer that was part of a 16-7 run to open the second half.
But the Spartans answered with an 11-2 run of their own, including nine straight points, to go back in front on Ward’s layup with 10 minutes to play.
Big Ten tournament scenarios
Here is a look at where Michigan State (10-8) might be seeded for the Big Ten Tournament:
* Fifth: MSU gets the No. 5 seed with a Northwestern loss
* Sixth: MSU gets the No. 6 seed with a Northwestern win and an Iowa win OR with a loss and a Northwestern win and losses by Iowa and Michigan
* Seventh: MSU gets the No. 7 seed with wins by Michigan and Northwestern win and an Iowa loss
Source: Big Ten Network.