By Eric Myers
With four players in their starting lineup who stand at 6-foot-7 or taller, Maryland had the edge inside, on paper. The perceived advantage came to fruition as the Terrapins repeatedly probed inside, scoring or earning free throw opportunities in the process.
Maryland’s advantage inside, where it enjoyed a plus-16 rebound margin and a favorable edge in points in the paint, led it to a 76-61 season-opening victory over Stony Brook at the Nassau Coliseum on Friday night.
With Maryland’s perimeter offense faltering, as it was just 2-of-14 on three-point attempt, the Terrapins were able to overcome nine made Seawolves three-point shots with a sizeable advantage in made free throws, 20 to six. That disparity resulted from a much more interior-oriented approach for Mark Turgeon’s team.
The Terps’ 49 percent field goal percentage on the night can be largely attributed to their countless opportunities the team earned inside, both on drives from perimeter players and the post players converting opportunities around the rim.
In the first half, after Stony Brook knocked down a three-point shot to cut the Maryland lead to 19-13, Maryland’s offense was ignited by scoring the game’s next 12 points to expand its lead to 18. The impactful run included a three point shot by Kevin Huerter and was highlighted by a fast-break half court alley-oop pass from Anthony Cowan to Bruno Fernando.
Maryland’s first half advantage would balloon to as large as 20 before taking a 41-23 lead into halftime. The Terrapins first half offensive attack was led by Michal Cekovsky and Justin Jackson, with eight and nine points respectively.
After halftime, Stony Brook threatened to climb back into the game by cutting the Maryland lead to 13 on multiple occasions, in large part due to Tyrell Sturdivant’s three second half three-point shots.
Maryland would answer the onslaught of perimeter shots with its freshman big man, Bruno Fernando, who scored six consecutive points at the rim to push the lead back to 18, at 58-42 with 12 minutes remaining.
After two consecutive three-point shots by the Seawolves’ Akwasi Yeboah cut the Maryland lead to 69-57 with four minutes to play, Turgeon called a timeout and reinserted Huerter, Jackson and Anthony Cowan. The sophomore trio would key a 7-0 game-sealing spurt to put the game out of reach.
The Terrapins were led on the night by Cowan with 15 points and Huerter with 13. Jackson notched his third career double-double with 11 points and a career high 14 rebounds. Fernando and Cekovsky also both contributed 10 points.
Maryland will play its home opener of the 2017-18 season on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. against University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).