MADISON -- It's a feeling that has become all-too familiar for the Wisconsin Badgers.
The crushing last-minute loss, the press conference answers about what went wrong this time, the bittersweet taste of a better performance coupled with yet another failed opportunity to emerge victorious.
After Melo Trimble's three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left gave Wisconsin its fifth one-possession loss of the season on Saturday, it was more of the same for the Badgers (9-8, 1-3 Big Ten) after the game.
Frustration. Disappointment. Displeasure.
All afternoon long, the Badgers displayed a fierce resolve while exchanging body blows with the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins. But each time the Badgers would erase a Maryland lead, the Terrapins would storm right back.
So when Bronson Koenig tied the game with a cold-blooded step-back three with 23 seconds left, it was Trimble and the Terrapins (15-1, 4-0) who would have one last chance to dismantle another Badgers comeback attempt.
With 1.3 seconds remaining, Trimble, who finished with a game-high 21 points, buried a pull-up three over the extended arms of Badgers guard Zak Showalter to give the Terrapins a 63-60 win.
"We all expect him to make it," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said.
Trailing by eight with 1:19 remaining in the game, the Badgers rallied to tie the game on Koenig's step-back, but walked away with no reward after Nigel Hayes' desperation heave at the buzzer fell short.
"We do keep getting better, but we've been hearing that for a while now, so it's time to start putting some wins on the board now," Badgers forward Ethan Happ said.
Hayes scored 17 points, but only three in the second half, and Happ posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Badgers.
Another close game, another loss for Wisconsin.
"It's pretty disheartening," Koenig said. "The past few games that we've kind of had those mental lapses at the end that we can't have. Our margin of error is microscopic. So, we've just got to find ways to win, not ways to lose."
Trimble's game-winner stole the show, but it wasn't the end of the game where the Badgers faltered.
"Everything will be magnified in the last 18 seconds and how the game unfolded at the end, but there will be multiple things that we'll have to look at, whether it be things defensively, offensively that put us in a position where it came down to 18 seconds," Gard said.
Wisconsin only attempted 11 free throws--missing six of them--and shot 38.7 percent from the field (24-62). Gard added that the Badgers missed 14 shots within five feet of the rim, effectively leaving 28 points on the court in that category alone.
After taking a 47-46 lead on a Koenig triple with 10:01 to play, Wisconsin's offense fell into yet another ill-timed cold spell. As the Badgers missed seven consecutive missed shots, Trimble went on a 10-1 run by himself to give Maryland its biggest lead of the game at 56-48.
"Do the little things that add up to give you the wins," Hayes said of what the Badgers need to do in order to end up on the favorable side of these nail-biters. "After games, of course the first thing you look at are the last couple plays. Those stand out and are always magnified, but throughout the game, the little things are what give you a win or a loss."
3 things we learned:
1. The Badgers don't go down without a fight, but still lack the ability to play a complete game.
Trailing by eight with 79 seconds left against one of the leading Final Four contenders in the nation isn't usually an ideal situation to be in. However, as they did in one-possession losses to Marquette and Indiana, the Badgers rallied in the closing minutes to tie the game.
Showalter scored and was fouled on a driving layup, but failed to convert the three-point play. Robert Carter missed the front end of the bonus at the free throw line on the other end, and Showalter buried a triple to draw within 60-57 with 1:05 left.
Rasheed Sulaimon was fouled by Happ with 40 seconds remaining, but left his free throw short. 6-foot-9 forward Jake Layman switched onto Koenig on defense, and the junior guard took full advantage of the mismatch. A la Sam Dekker against Kentucky, Koenig stepped back behind the arc and drained a three.
Wisconsin outscored Maryland 8-3 over the final 80 seconds, but it was what came before that finish that cost the Badgers the upset.
Despite a strong showing, Happ missed multiple point-blank layups. Wisconsin shot 11 of 34 in the second half. Hayes made one of his eight second-half field goal attempts. The Badgers struggled to get to the lineâand when they did, more free throws were missed than made.
2. Defensively, Wisconsin can match up with anyone.
The Badgers held Maryland to .955 points per possession. On Tuesday, Indiana scored .89 points per possession. Both teams rank in the top 20 of KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency.
After turning Indiana over 19 times at Assembly Hall, the Badgers forced 16 turnovers against Maryland. Similar to the Wisconsin football team this past season, the problems for this team clearly don't come on that end of the ball.
Jordan Hill has provided a defensive spark off the bench since earning significant minutes, and Nigel Hayes' length and athleticism make him a tough defender on the perimeter and interior.
Even against Maryland's size advantage, the Badgers held their own down low. Both teams scored 28 points in the paint and Wisconsin held the Terrapins to five offensive boards.
3. The development is Happ-ening.
Once again, the redshirt freshman Happ displayed moments of dominance in the post on Saturday. He once again regained the Big Ten lead with his sixth double-double of the season and is now averaging 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent.
Against the big bodies of Damonte Dodd and Diamond Stone, Happ went to work over various stretches.
In the first half, he scored on three consecutive layups to cut Maryland's seven-point lead down to one. This was minutes after a crafty swipe of Michael Cekovsky after the Terrapins forward grabbed a defensive rebound that led to an easy basket for Happ.