Maryland handles Gardner-Webb without Jackson, Fernando

Maryland basketball

By: Eddie Hobbs

If the coats and scarfs did not keep fans warm as they piled into the Xfinity Center, Maryland’s three-point shooting surely did the job in its 82-60 win over Gardner-Webb. The Terrapins connected on 10-of-20 three pointers on the night in addition to 54 percent shooting from the field.

Maryland entered Saturday’s matchup against the Bulldogs without one of its most exciting players in Bruno Fernando, who suffered an ankle sprain against Ohio. It did not make the game plan any easier for head coach Mark Turgeon when Justin Jackson was a late scratch with an illness.

Darryl Morsell provided the big-play ability for Maryland throughout the game. The freshman got back to his game, and drove into the paint more often, rather than relying on jump shots. Morsell finished with a career-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including a massive two-handed slam.

Jackson has been one of Maryland’s best rebounders, averaging eight per game, and was certainly missed in the opening half. The Terps went into the locker room staring at an 18-16 rebounding differential against a small Gardner-Webb team.  The Bulldogs’ 6-foot point guard Jaheam Cornwall even grabbed four rebounds before the half.  

With the shorthanded front-court, Maryland looked to Michal Cekovsky, Sean Obi and Ivan Bender to share the load down low. Obi and Bender both picked up a couple of quick fouls just eight minutes in.

Turgeon then tuned to Justin Tomaic, the redshirt freshman, for an early opportunity against a non-conference opponent. Tomaic was impressive in his 16 minutes of play, going 3-of-5 from the field for nine points.

“I just focus on trying to help the team and everything I can, just hustle through plays and I am going to be ready when coach calls my name,” Tomaic said. “So I don’t really try to make my mind up a lot, I just try to do the right things to help the team.”

If Maryland wants to continue to win games, it must limit the costly turnovers. The Terps average 17 turnovers per game, a number that Turgeon would like to see go down. Against the Bulldogs, Maryland only committed 11 turnovers, a step in the right direction.

“They just gotta decided they are going be better with the ball,” Turgeon said. “I do think that they are getting more comfortable in what we are running, and guys know where they are supposed to be, and what they are supposed to do. All I can do is keep trying to coach them as best I can.”

Maryland will go up against Catholic University at 7 p.m. Tuesday night with the possibility of Jackson returning from illness. Turgeon noted how the plan is for the sophomore small-forward to return practice on Monday, and possibly play Tuesday night. Fernando is working back to full strength and is getting better every day according to Turgeon, but will not be rushed to get back onto the court immediately.