The Maryland men’s basketball team kicked off its centennial season Tuesday night at the Xfinity Center in College Park, relinquishing a 22-point lead but holding on to defeat the Delaware Blue Hens, 73-67.
Freshman forward Jalen Smith finished the game with a team-high 19 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore forward Bruno Fernando recorded 15 points, making all six of his field goal attempts before fouling out with 4:12 remaining in the game.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon began the game with two freshmen in the starting lineup, Smith and combo guard Aaron Wiggins. Fernando, sophomore guard Darryl Morsell and junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. rounded out the starting five.
Though Delaware kept it close to open up the game, the Terps were able to take a 44-27 lead into the half, led by Fernando’s 11 points and three rebounds. Maryland came out of the half just as strong, but an eventual hiccup made the game tighter down the stretch.
After Maryland built its largest lead of 22 points six minutes into the second half, Delaware worked its way back into the game, courtesy of a 15-2 run. During the Blue Hens’ run, the Terrapins went scoreless for over five minutes of game action; Maryland shot 29 percent from the field in the second half.
“Obviously not the way we wanted to finish the second half, the last 12 minutes or so,” Turgeon said. “Couldn’t score around the rim, missed a couple free throws. We let the offense affect our defense.”
Part of the reason for Maryland’s struggles was the trouble the offense had with Delaware’s zone defense. Unable to find a rhythm and use their size inside, the Terps began forcing up 3-pointers.
Despite starting the game with a 3-pointer from Morsell, Maryland made just two of its 19 shots from beyond the arc. The Terrapins missed all eight of their 3-point attempts in the second half.
As the offense continued to struggle, the Blue Hens were able to cut the lead down to just four with a minute remaining. However, a final stand by the Maryland defense was enough to secure the first win of the season.
Finding a shot from the outside may have been a struggle for Maryland, but the team was able to take advantage of its size inside. The Terrapins dominated the boards early, out-rebounding Delaware 22-10 in the first half. Maryland finished the game with 44 rebounds, to Delaware’s 33.
“They zoned us for the last 15 minutes,” Turgeon said. “We tried to get it inside. We shot too many 3s early. Nine of our first 16 shots were 3s.”
Maryland is on the road, though not too far, for its next game, traveling to Annapolis to play Navy on Nov. 9. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m at Alumni Hall.