By Eddie Hobbs
Bruno Fernando was the straw that stirred the drink for Maryland (5-0) in Monday night’s 76-45 victory over Jackson State (1-3). The Terps relied heavily on the freshman to anchor down the paint and be a force on the offensive end, and it paid off. Fernando would score 14 of his 18 points in the first half to go along with six rebounds and three blocks.
The Tigers started out in a 3-2 zone against the Terps, which heavily favors three-point shooting. Maryland tried to take advantage of the defense, but were not making its shots, shooting just 31 percent from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes. Head coach Mark Turgeon noted how the team was caught off guard by the defense in the early going.
“We weren’t expecting the zone, we did work on zone offense yesterday,” Turgeon said. “They have played some 2-3, but they haven’t showed the 3-2 and some of the different things they were doing just took us a little bit to get used to, and I thought the last seven or eight minutes of the first half and the second half we played well, and shared the ball.”
Darryl Morsell, the other prized freshman for the Terps, went down early in the first half with a hamstring strain and will be day-to-day, Turgeon said.
Maryland entered a five-minute period without scoring on offense and Jackson State took advantage. The Tigers went a 6-0 run to bring the game within striking distance.
After a Jackson State three-pointer brought the Tigers within two points halfway through the first half, guard Paris Collins slapped the floor. The court slapping ignited the fans, and did not sit well with Fernando, who received an alley-oop from Anthony Cowan and led to an and-one.
“You know the basketball game is intense, and I mean they came out ready to play and they came out intense on our home court,” Fernando said. “They tried to talk all this crap, but you know we have to stay to who we are.”
Maryland would start the second half with a couple of fiery plays courtesy of Fernando. The six foot ten forward ignited the team with a layup followed by an emphatic dunk to lead a 9-0 Terps run.
Jackson State only shot 31 percent from the floor in the first half, but Maryland strapped down the Tigers by allowing them to shoot 26 percent over 13 minutes of play in the second half.
The struggling three-point shooting did not continue throughout the entire game for Maryland. Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley would get the team going from beyond the arc combining to go 5-7 from the three-point line in the final 20 minutes.
The two guards would help push the gap to 28 points with over 10 minutes remaining in the game. With less than two minutes to go in the waning minutes of a blowout, Turgeon sent in an all-bench lineup to finish out the game.
Maryland will take a four-day break before facing the St. Bonaventure Bonnies Friday night at 9:00 p.m.