By Mike Touma
It was on the inside that Terps emerged victorious over Hofstra on Friday night with a score of 80-69.
The big men for Maryland led the charge in a close-fought battle against the Pride on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Freshman Jalen Smith dominated in the paint for the Terps, taking down 7 rebounds, 3 of which came on the offensive end. He also added 11 points on the night.
Along with a strong performance from Smith, his partner in crime, sophomore Bruno Fernando, was also a key factor in the victory. Coming off the bench for the first time this season, the 6-10 forward from Luanda, Angola used his 233 lb. frame to fight inside the paint for easy buckets, shooting a perfect 8-8 from the floor, earning a team-high 17 points for the Terps.
“We established Bruno in the second half right away, and it opened things up for everybody else. I thought we executed at a high level,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said.
Points were hard to come by for the Terps early on, as they trailed the Pride 37-31 heading into the half. A strong performance by senior Justin Wright-Foreman led Hofstra with a game-high 27 points in the game, 10 in the first half. Junior Eli Pemberton also contributed with 10 points of his own for the Pride.
The Terps started hot in the second half, regaining their lead within minutes. Four of the first five baskets came inside the paint, ending with an alley-oop from junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. to Smith, putting an exclamation point on the run.
“The guys that started the second half were really playing well and I think they really got into a groove,” Turgeon said.
Cowan continued to be a leader on the Maryland team, sharing the ball better than anyone else on the squad, racking up 4 assists along with 11 points of his own. The veteran showed a great deal of confidence in the second half, leading his Terps to a comeback victory.
Adding to the scoring outburst from the Terps were freshmen Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala. Both proved lethal from beyond the arc, combining for six threes in the contest. Sophomore guard Darryl Morsell also scored in double figures, rounding out the Terps’ deep lineup of offensive stars.
“Eric’s a winner,” Turgeon said. “When we need him to make plays, he makes them and he did that tonight. I thought him and Anthony really fed off each other. Sometimes he’d bring it, sometimes Anthony would bring it. We’ve been working really hard shooting the ball.”
A game not unlike the previous three of the season for the Terps as the big men led them to victory. Highlight reel dunks from Fernando and Smith lit up the crowd as the cheers roared throughout the Xfinity Center. A hot Maryland team came together in the second half, catching heat and staying hot for the remainder of the game, unwilling to let up.
Still unbeaten, the Terps look to stay hot in their next contest against Mt. St. Mary’s on Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Xfinity Center.