- Associated Press - Saturday, March 14, 2015

CHICAGO — Maryland found itself in yet another close game — only this time, the Terrapins came up short.

Travis Trice scored 20 points, Branden Dawson added 17 points and eight rebounds, and the Spartans rallied to beat the No. 8 Terrapins, 62-58, on Saturday in the Big Ten semifinals.

“We’ve won a lot of close games, so I think that gives us confidence moving forward, if anything,” Maryland’s Evan Smotrycz said.

The Terrapins (27-6), the No. 2 seed in the tournament, dropped this one after sweeping Michigan State during the regular season. They fell to 11-1 in games decided by six points or less.

The Spartans (23-10) trailed by 16 points in the first half, went on a big run early in the second after coach Tom Izzo lit into his team at the break, and took control in the closing minutes.

Izzo’s team will try to make it two consecutive titles and three in four years when it takes on No. 6 Wisconsin on Sunday. The Badgers knocked off Purdue, 71-51, in the other semifinal.

“I think because we have so many great alums that really look at this month and they call from everywhere and they call our players, and our players, I think, somewhat feel a little obligated,” said Izzo, who has led Michigan State to six Final Fours and one NCAA championship in 20 years. “That’s not a bad thing, you know, to live up to the standards of the people that built the program.”

Melo Trimble led Maryland with 22 points, but hit just two of his last 11 shots. Dez Wells, who scored 10 points, was the only other player in double figures for the Terrapins (27-6), who had won eight in a row.

“I’m proud of my team — 27 wins now,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “We’re looking forward to what lies ahead.”

It was 48-48 when Gavin Schilling hit a free throw and dunked to give Michigan State a three-point lead with 3:44 left. That started a decisive 9-2 spurt.

Dawson had a thunderous dunk before Lourawls Nairn Jr. hit one of two free throws to make it 57-50 with 1:31 remaining.

After dropping two to Maryland in the regular season, Michigan State was down by 11 early in the second when it embarked upon a 15-0 run to go up, 40-36.

Marvin Clark Jr. soared in for a left-handed dunk to make it a one-point game. Denzel Valentine nailed a 3-pointer from the right side after missing his first five shots to give Michigan State its first lead at 38-35.

Matt Costello added a basket before Smotrycz hit a 3-pointer for Maryland, ending a 7:23 scoring drought.

“We came out and played with more energy in the second half,” Valentine said. “We came back against a great team.”

The Spartans missed their first nine shots in the game, clanging open jumpers and point-blank layups. It was 12-1 before Trice hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 14:37 left, and it wasn’t like they were having much luck on the other end, either.

Trimble got off to a blistering start for Maryland, hitting his first five shots and scoring 13 points as the Terrapins jumped out to a 23-7 lead. The Spartans went on a 9-0 run to pull within five with 4:30 left in the half, with Trice hitting a 3 from the left corner to make it 25-20 after Matt Costello grabbed an offensive rebound and passed to him.

“We weren’t getting back in transition,” Trice said. “A couple of [Trimble’s] threes were walk-in, wide-open threes. As a scorer, any time you can see one or two go through easy, it kind of gets you rolling.”

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