The Maryland men’s basketball team defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes, 72-62 on Saturday at the Xfinity Center. Maryland is now 21-7 overall and 12-5 in conference play while the Buckeyes are now 17-10 and 7-9 in conference play.
The Terrapins got off to a slow start making just one of their first six shot attempts, but then Bruno Fernando hit Anthony Cowan with a perfect bounce pass for a layup and the offense started to flow again. Cowan finished the half with a team-high 10 points. Fernando was shut out in the first half for a second consecutive game.
A key reason the Terps were able to build an early lead was Serrel Smith Jr. The freshman guard had eight points in the first half and finished with a career-high 14 points.
Smith stepped up in the place of Eric Ayala, who did not play in the second half due to an illness. He is expected back for their game on Wednesday.
“There was a missing spot that had to be filled. Coach came in and told us Eric wasn’t feeling well, so it was my time to step up and play that role,” said Smith Jr. who scored in double figures for the fourth time this season.“I just try to hit as many shots as possible to give my team the lead and keep the lead.”
Similarly to their last contest, Fernando started to wake up in the second half. He was assertive inside, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds. It was his 17th double double of the season.
Defense was the calling card for the Terps at the start of the second half. They forced the Buckeyes into a five-minute scoring drought and the Terps led by 16. Ohio State’s leading scorer Kaleb Wesson (14.7 points per game) struggled from the field, going 3-12.
Turgeon was pleased with the team’s, and especially Fernando’s, efforts on the Ohio State standout.
“Bruno was terrific. He did a great job. Our helpside was good and our ball pressure was good,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said.
The Buckeyes however, would not go away. A three pointer by Justin Ahrens cut the lead to two with 5:27 left to play. But then, it was Smith Jr. stepping up again. The freshman guard got fouled on a three pointer and hit three free throws to push the lead back to five.
Following the Smith free throws, Darryl Morsell picked off a pass and got fouled. He converted on two free throws himself to extend the lead to seven. Free throws played a huge factor in the contest. The Terrapins were 21-25 from the free throw line while the Buckeyes only had seven attempts.
Anthony Cowan finished as the leading scorer with 19. Fernando and Smith Jr. had 14 a piece. Morsell also finished in double figures with 11.
With three regular season games left, the Terrapins will play their final road game of the season on Wednesday at Penn State. Cowan and the Terrapins know their is still more work to be done.
“It’s my job to keep my teammates motivated and just ready to try and come out and get better everyday,” Cowan said. “We got a lot more work to do.”