Bruno Fernando keeps adding fuel to the hype that surrounds him.
Fernando led both teams in scoring with a career-high 18 points, as the Maryland Terrapins locked up their fifth consecutive win Monday night with a 76-45 victory over the Jackson State Tigers.
“I’m happy with the night,” said Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. “In the last seven or eight minutes of the first half we really played well. We did some good things.”
Fernando shot 77 percent for the night and 4-of-7 from the free throw line. Fernando was also a force at the basket with six rebounds and three blocks.
“I’ve been working on [my post game] a lot with my coaches,” Fernando said. “The thing I can do is be patient, get the ball and do whatever I can.”
Turgeon and Jackson State head coach Wayne Brent were impressed with Fernando.
“I thought he was huge,” Brent said after the game. “He’s a really good player. I thought they used his size to win and we don’t see that in our conference.”
“Bruno was really good tonight,” Turgeon added. “He’s come a long way in five games. For him to be doing what he’s doing is pretty amazing. He’s playing with confidence on the low block, and defensively, he’s just been off the charts.”
If the Terps’ fans had any concerns about how the team would look after a close 80-78 victory on Saturday, they quickly disappeared. Maryland shot 44.8 percent in the first half, and held the Tigers to just 10 makes on 27 attempts.
It wasn’t all good for the Terps, though. Just minutes into the game, freshman guard Darryl Morsell went down with a hamstring injury. Morsell is day-to-day with the injury, Turgeon said.
“I was worried, because he’s a tough kid,’ Turgeon said. “These four days off will help, because he’s pretty important to us.”
Fernando said his teammate was in good spirits.
“I talked to him after the game, and he said he was OK,” Fernando said. “Hopefully we’ll have him back by the next game.”
Jackson State never led in the game, and although they tied the Terps three times, Maryland eventually outpaced the Tigers with points from Fernando and Justin Jackson, who finished the night with 10 points.
Turgeon said it was good to see Jackson more assertive.
“He’s feeling more confident, which is important and I thought he really tried to guard tonight,” Turgeon said. “He continues to rebound. Eight defensive rebounds in 24 minutes is terrific
Monday’s game was the first time this season sophomore Anthony Cowan didn’t lead the team in points, but the team got plenty of strong performances from its other players, including Jared Nickens, who hit three 3-pointers in the second half en route to 14 points.
“It was good to see him play well, get some shots, get some playing time,” Turgeon said. “We played a lot of guys and a lot of guys played well. I think some of our guys are starting to get in a groove.”
With the score tied 10-10 after a layup from Jackson State’s Julian Daughtry, Kevin Huerter Huerter hit a three that started a 7-0 run. The Terps hit another 7-0 run seven minutes later, helping the team take a 38-25 halftime lead.
Then, Maryland made it a point to get inside more in the second half.
“When we went into halftime, we talked about how to attack the zone a little better,” Turgeon said. “I told the team after the game that since they played the zone against us, it would help us a lot moving forward.”
Jackson State didn’t threaten Maryland again for the rest of the game, and the Terps were rolling in the second half. A layup from Huerter put the Terps up 64-34. Alex Tostado hit both his free throws in the final seconds to give his team a 31-point lead— its largest lead of the night.
Fernando said it felt great to have his teammates rally behind him.
“I’m a freshman on paper, but I’m not a freshman when I’m out there on the court with the guys,” he said. “Just having them see me doing something and them following through with it means a lot to me.”
After taking a three-day break for Thanksgiving, Maryland will travel to Destin, Florida, to play St. Bonaventure in the Emerald Coast Classic. Tipoff will be at 9:30 p.m.
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