When Michal Cekovsky went down with an ankle injury in February, Maryland Terrapins fans wondered when they would see the center on the court again.
Nine months later, Cekovsky returned for the first game of the season against the Stony Brook Seawolves, and he erased any doubt that might have lingered on his status.
Led by Cekovsky and sophomores Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan, the Terps outlasted a stubborn Seawolves team, 76-61.
Cekovsky finished the game with 10 points, shooting 3-of-3 and 100 percent from the free throw line. Jackson recorded his first double-double of the season with 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Maryland had five players finish the game with double figures.
“We have a lot of players who can do so many different things,” Jackson said after the game. “We can have players who can go off at any given night. That’s just a special thing about our team.”
Maryland, which extended its winning streak in season openers to four games, started the game with Ivan Bender and Cekovsky in the lineup, and it paid off. The Terps out rebounded the Seawolves 42-26.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We played at a higher level. We worked hard on rebounding. We did a lot of good things.”
Turgeon said it was good to see Jackson get off to a good start.
“He played well, and I think that’s the way we wanted to use him. Justin was terrific.”
Maryland had 23 points from its bench against Stony Brook, 10 of which came from freshman Bruno Fernando, who made his official debut with the team.
It took Fernando until the second to get going. Once he did, he was a force around the basket, scoring eight points on 5-of-10 shooting and grabbing a pair of rebounds. Fernando also had a block and an assist.
Jackson and freshman point guard Darryl Morsell got the Terps started off early, combining for eight of the team’s first points for a 12-7 lead midway through the first half.
Still, Stony Brook found a way to keep the score close. Akwasi Yeboah knocked down one of his three 3-pointers to cut Maryland’s lead to six points.
But sophomore guard Kevin Huerter knocked down a three of his own, which sparked a 12-0 run for the Terps. Maryland outscored Stony Brook 10-8 in the final five minutes of the first half for a 41-23 halftime lead.
Maryland didn’t truly pull away from the Seawolves until there were 15 minutes left in the game. After a pair of 3-pointers from Stony Brook’s Tyrell Sturdivant, a dunk from Fernando ignited another scoring stretch for Maryland — this time a 6-0 run.
Maryland kept its double-digit lead over the Seawolves, and it led by as many as 18 points in the second half.
Stony Brook managed to cut the Terps lead down to 12 points with about four minutes left in the game. But after a quick timeout, Maryland outscored the Seawolves 7-4 for the rest of the game.
Maryland will return to the Xfinity Center for its first game at home against Maryland Eastern Shore on Nov. 12. Tipoff will be at 6 p.m.