Interior dominance leads Maryland over North Carolina A&T

By: Brittney Bridges

When Bruno Fernando decided to partake in the NBA Combine, most people suspected that he would forgo his sophomore season and declare for the draft. Though some spectators thought he would get drafted first round, some contrarily predicted he wouldn’t get selected at all.

Nonetheless, Fernando decided to stay in College Park. With him returning for his second season after coming off of an impressive debut season, it gave Maryland fans a reason to be excited, and rightfully so.

Fernando’s 17 points and 12 rebounds led the Maryland Terrapins (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) passed the North Carolina A&T Aggies (0-3, 0-0 Mid-Eastern Atlantic) 82-59 on Monday night at the Xfinity Center. Despite some early foul trouble causing him to leave the game periodically, he remained to be an issue for the Aggies in the paint.

“After those two fouls, going to the bench, I just wanted to stay dialed in and keep the rhythm going,” Fernando said.

Fernando went into halftime with 14 points, only to get his third personal foul a couple minutes into the second half. He wouldn’t return until the nine-minute mark. Despite his noticeable absence, it didn’t take away from his performance.

“The guys were doing a great job at finding me open,” Fernando said. “I think I did a good job rebounding, trying to get second chance points.”

This was the first meeting between the Terrapins and the Aggies in history. North Carolina A&T’s season didn’t start off ideally with their first two games against UNCG and Wake Forest ending in losses. The Aggies lost their three top scorers to graduation and it started to show as the Terps got into rhythm. The length of Maryland slowly wreaked havoc down low as none of the A&T players could successfully get an accurate shot off due to Fernando’s stifling defense.

“[The first half] was probably Bruno’s best half since he’s been here,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “I thought we executed well to get him some shots,”

Maryland had spurts of struggles from behind the three-point line. The Terps even went 1-9 from the three midway through the second half, but remained up by double digits due to the efforts of Darryl Morsell, Serrel Smith Jr. and Aaron Wiggins. Fernando finished with 17 points followed by Wiggins who had 14 points. Though it wasn’t the best shooting night, it was a noticeable improvement from their two prior games.

“I think we shot 2 for 19 from three-point land in the first game,” Wiggins laughed. “It’s pretty good but we have to continue to get better; there were a couple shots that rimmed in and out that should’ve fallen but I think if we keep shooting it’ll begin to add up,”

Wiggins didn’t start, but instead came off of the bench. Freshman Eric Ayala started instead but came out within the first four minutes of play.

“Wherever he wants to play me is fine. Whatever I can do to help my team win,” Wiggins continued. “If that’s coming off the bench, starting or not playing at all one night, that’s okay with me.”

The Terrapins look to continue their winning streak when they host Hofstra at 7:00 p.m. This will be their second home game in a six game series.