After shooting and scoring struggles consistently plaguing its first four games of the season, Maryland finally got past those inconsistencies in a 92-77 win over Mount St. Mary’s to start the season 5-0.
“I was really pleased with a lot of phases of the game tonight,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “I thought the first 30 minutes we were really good.”
The Terps second-leading scorer, Bruno Fernando, ended the game with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds.
“I don’t know if there’s a big guy in the country who has improved as much as [Bruno Fernando] he has in one year,” Turgeon said. “Defensively he’s gotten better. He’s playing at a better pace and he has a better feel so he’s slowed down.”
Along with Fernando’s strong performance, Smith also added his second career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Maryland front court.
Maryland’s play in the paint was a big reason they held a comfortable lead all night. Out of the Terps 92 points, 56 came in the paint.
Seven turnovers in the first four minutes of the game from both teams had the game locked at seven going into the first media timeout. The Mount’s man-to-man defense was a reason for that.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen man-to-man in a while so we struggled against that a bit at times,” Turgeon said.
Coming out of that timeout the Terps went on a 10-0 run to give them a 17-7 lead, mostly led by freshmen and sophomore forward Bruno Fernando.
At one point during this run, Turgeon had five freshmen on the floor in guards Aaron Wiggins, Serrel Smith Jr. and Eric Ayala complementing forwards Ricky Lindo Jr. and Jalen Smith.
Fernando returned to the starting lineup tonight after not starting against Hofstra and he showed just why he needs to be in there.
Smith Jr. made an impact in the game right away after entering the game, scoring five straight points for Maryland off of a three and lay-up. Smith Jr. ended the day with a career-high 13 points and three three pointers to go with his four rebounds.
“He was good on both ends. The first few rotations he was good defensively,” Turgeon said. “It gives us another dynamic. I’m happy for him because he’s a great kid who works hard.”
The game got away from The Mount after Maryland’s consistent scoring propelled a first half run that the Terps never let the lead go down to single digits.
Maryland shot 62.3 percent, an improvement from the 45.4 percent they shot in their first four games.
Mount St. Mary’s kept Cowan Jr. in check for most of the game. A late three-pointer gave him 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting on the night, along with his six assists and five rebounds.
Another key to tonight’s consistency was the way Maryland shared the ball. Maryland had 23 assists on 38 made baskets, with four Terps registering at least five assists. Cowan Jr. and freshman guard Eric Ayala had six each, while Morsell and Smith added five of their own.
Ayala got the start over fellow Wiggins and proved his worth in the starting five. The Wilmington, Delaware native finished with seven points to go with his six assists, and was a key component in helping the Terps go on a run to get a healthy lead on The Mount.
Even off the bench, Wiggins still managed to make an impact against the Mountaineers. Wiggins added eight points and made two of his four 3-point attempts after making four on Friday against Hofstra.
The only aspects of the game that disappointed Turgeon were the turnovers his team committed and the way they ended the game. Maryland committed 18 turnovers, with 11 coming from their starters.
Once Maryland subbed out all of their starters, Mount St. Mary’s began to score almost every possession and made the game much closer than it actually was. They outscored the Terps 48-45 in the second half.
Maryland now has a five-day break after two games in three days before taking on Marshall back at the Xfinity Center Friday at 6 p.m.
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