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Maryland men’s basketball’s win over Bucknell was a tale of two halves

The Terps lost the first half by 15, then won the second by 17.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Through 20 minutes of play against Bucknell, Maryland men’s basketball looked completely overwhelmed. But with halftime adjustments and a comeback in front of a raucous crowd, the Terps came away with an 80-78 win.

Coming into the game, the Terps were fielding a top-30 defense. Bucknell came in and caught fire, bending the Maryland defense to its will. The Bison were scoring so easily, it really looked like a Maryland football game for a while.

Maryland went into the locker room down 15 points at the half, allowing 50 points on 31 shots. Bucknell hit seven of 10 first-half three-pointers and ended the half shooting 64.5 percent from the field with two players in double figures.

“We came off an emotional win the other night and I had a feeling we’d come out flat, and we were,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. “Bucknell was just terrific. I thought they made everything in the first half no matter what we tried. ... I just didn’t coach very well in the first half.”

While leading scorer Zach Thomas was held largely in check for the first half, scoring seven points on four shots, it was Stephen Brown and Nana Foulland who led the charge for Bucknell. Brown finished the first half with a team-high 14 points, going 5-of-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from three. Foulland, though, was right behind him with 13 points, hitting all but one of his seven shots.

More strikingly, Maryland was getting bullied inside, allowing 20 points in the paint and and nine second-chance points.

“I think in the first half our bigs were a little soft in there,” Maryland freshman Bruno Fernando said. “We let them catch, but we watched a lot of film on him and studied his game a lot to make sure he doesn’t catch deep and just tries to make a hook shot. That’s the kind of adjustment we had to make in the second half.”

Turgeon went into the locker room and ripped up the game plan. Something had to change. Maryland needed a spark, and the freshmen delivered.

“We just changed everything in the second half,” Turgeon said. “We guarded everything more aggressively, and that’s who we are. We changed our offense. Really something we haven’t practiced ... but it worked for us.”

Darryl Morsell started the second half for a Terps lineup that featured its sophomore big three of Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan alongside freshmen Morsell and Fernando.

Morsell added eight quick points and immediately provided a spark for Maryland’s defense. Fernando would reject three shots, score six points and add seven rebounds in the half as the Terps fought back from down double-digits. Morsell would finish with 15 points and two steals, and Fernando finished with 14 points and nine rebounds to go with his personal block party.

“Our game plan was wrong,” Turgeon said. “We were so worried about Thomas that we were afraid to switch. ... So in the second half, with [Morsell’s] size, we weren’t afraid to do that. Really, that was the whole difference.”

Morsell’s presence allowed Maryland to switch every ball screen and double in the post. That started to speed Bucknell up a bit and led to missed shots. With a renewed defensive effort, the Terps were able to complete the comeback and take the lead before the under-8 media timeout.

Add in some big-time threes from Cowan, Dion Wiley and Jackson—his first of the season—and some strap-up defense and the Terps were 4-0.

Maryland held the Bison to 29.4 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes, and Bucknell was 1-of-12 from three before Thomas hit two threes in the last 13 seconds to bring the score to where it stood. Maryland would allow only eight points in the paint the entire half.

“Darryl really changed the game,” Cowan said. “He’s a very intense player, so is Bruno, so when they’re both in the game it kinda boosts everyone’s spirits a little bit. It makes everyone play a little harder.”

The Takeaways: Maryland comes back vs. Bucknell

Posted by Testudo Times on Sunday, November 19, 2017