Number 2 ranked Maryland took on Illinois State tonight in Cancun, and it was a heated game. The Redbirds were able to hang with this heavily favored Maryland team for most of the game, but in the end the Terps were just too much for them.
The Redbirds' high pressure defense was able to force Maryland to turn the ball over a high amount of times, and they capitalized on that. However, the Terps were able to correct their mistakes late in the game when it was crunch time, and that is what ultimately won them this game.
The Redbirds were able to keep the game within five points for the majority of the game, actually leading for a chunk of it. Two huge three pointers from Maryland down the stretch were the daggers in the Redbirds' heart.
Everyone knows about Melo Trimble, star point guard for Maryland, for good reason. He didn't let his team down tonight either, scoring 15 points and also had 7 assists. It wasn't just Trimble who helped get the win, as Rasheed Sulaimon led the Terps in points with 18 and had 4 rebounds as well. They were just two of five players who had double-digit scoring for Maryland.
Illinois State played very well for being a heavy underdog. Led by forward MiKyle McIntosh who scored 17 points and grabbed 2 rebounds. Also contributing a good game for the Redbirds was point guard Paris Lee, who scored 15 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
This win improves Maryland's season to 4-0. The Terps have yet to be tested by a high quality team, but they did pick up a good win against Georgetown earlier in the season. They won't be tested against a ranked opponent until they play North Carolina, December 1st. This team has the quality players needed to have a good season and even make a long run in the NCAA tournament.
Illinois State on the other hand falls to 2-3 on the season. This team should walk away from tonight's game with a sense of hope for the season. They played well the entire game and the final score really won't show that. The Redbirds went into half time only trailing by one. If they could keep the level of play they had tonight up for the entire season, they should be in good shape going in to Missouri Valley Conference play. Their stingy defense will carry them forward. They do have another tough game coming up against the number one ranked team in the nation Kentucky.
Up next for the Terps is the Cancun Challenge championship game against the E.C. Matthews-less Rhode Island. They will start their conference play in the Big Ten December 30th against Penn State.
Next for Illinois State is the consolation game in the Cancun Challenge against TCU tomorrow at 5 p.m. CT.