By Eddie Hobbs
The holiday season is all about giving and Maryland was in the Christmas spirit as it handed Fairleigh Dickinson a 75-50 loss at the Xfinity Center. Even though the 17 turnovers were an issue for Maryland, its big first half lifted the team over the Knights.
The sophomore big three for Maryland was split up once again, as Justin Jackson was a scratch with shoulder soreness, and missed his third-straight game. The Terrapins were also without big man Michal Cekovsky, ankle soreness, and Dion Wiley, illness.
The energetic freshman Bruno Fernando made his return after suffering an ankle sprain against Ohio on Dec. 7. Fernando was shaking off the rust early on against the Knights, but quickly regained his feet after grabbing a few rebounds and providing a huge block. The 6-10 freshman center finished the game with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Even with a weak depth at the front-court positions, the Terrapins were able to dominate inside the paint through Ivan Bender. The senior forward finished the game with 12 points and four rebounds in just 19 minutes of play.
After Maryland went up 20-14 early in the first half, the Knights quickly cut the lead to just one with over nine minutes to play in the half. Turgeon called a timeout and when the Terps came back onto the floor they did not look back and went on a 24-0 run spanning over eight minutes.
“I think we had 11 straight stops in there, during that stretch, and then we made shots,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We executed but we made shots and we were good in the zone, we were good in man, we were good in everything…. Obviously that was the difference in the game.”
Kevin Huerter was one of the star players against the Knights, and showed his ability to do much more than just put the ball through the net. The sophomore guard finished the game with 12 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists, his second-career double-double.
“It was funny, it was like individually, every player on the bench told me at a separate time I was only two [assists] away [from a triple-double],” Huerter said. “He [Turgeon] was trying to run plays at the end of the game that could get me in situations to make plays, it just didn’t end up working out.”
Huerter was close to reaching his first collegiate triple-double, and it would have been the first time a Terp dropped a triple-double since Greivis Vasquez in 2009.
The shooting from Maryland was tremendous in the first half, 71 percent overall and 75 percent from three-point range. Things began to take a turn for the worse for the Terrapins as the team shot 31 percent from the field and only eight percent from three-point range in the second half.
The lineups from Maryland were a little different due to late scratches from three rotation players, and Turgeon believes that the turnovers were caused by players being put in different lineups than they are used to.
“I woke up this morning thinking I had a full team,” Turgeon said. “It is one of those deals, and so Jared Nickens is running the four and he doesn’t really practice that a lot in practice. It is a byproduct of that, and guys being sick.”
The Terrapins will take another short break for Christmas and then return to play against the UMBC Retrievers on Dec. 29. Turgeon noted that Justin Jackson’s shoulder should not be something that will linger, it will remain to be seen if Jackson will play against UMBC.