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Maryland basketball beats Gardner-Webb, 82-60

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The Terps have their second stress-free win in three days.

Maryland basketball Darryl Morsell Lila Bromberg | Testudo Times

Maryland basketball picked up its third straight victory on Saturday, dispatching Gardner-Webb 82-60 to improve to 9-3 this season.

It wasn’t the most dominating performance, but it didn’t need to be. Maryland didn’t trail after 2-0, and the 3-8 Runnin’ Bulldogs never presented much of a threat.

Maryland was without two key contributors, as Bruno Fernando sprained his ankle Thursday against Ohio and Justin Jackson missed the game with an illness. But Darryl Morsell and Kevin Huerter ensured their absence wasn’t an issue. Morsell tallied a career-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while Huerter went 6-for-9 and notched 15.

Michal Cekovsky and Anthony Cowan Jr. also reached double figures, recording 12 and 10 points, respectively. With two frontcourt pieces out, Maryland also took advantage of its depth. Sean Obi and Joshua Tomaic, who combined to play just 59 minutes in the Terps’ first 11 games, both enjoyed expanded roles. The latter had his best game in a Maryland uniform, finishing with nine points.

Gardner-Webb’s D.J. Laster led all scorers with 21 points, and David Efianayi chipped in 18. Those two had 39 of their team’s 60.

Maryland wasn’t dominant on the boards, hauling in just two more rebounds than the Runnin’ Bulldogs. But the Terps shot 54.5 percent from the floor and made 10 of 20 threes. They finished with 11 turnovers, including just one in the first 13 minutes.

The Terps seemed a little sluggish in the early minutes, but settled into somewhat of an offensive rhythm before long, hitting four straight shots to take an eight-point lead. The defense took longer to get going, as Gardner-Webb was holding its own largely because of greater effort. Maryland took 12 minutes to gain a double-digit lead—it did so in just 3:22 against Ohio—and even that was trimmed as low as six. But the Terps went on an 8-0 run to close the half and entered the locker room up 38-24.

Maryland’s lead remained in double digits for the whole second half. It reached 20 less than seven minutes into the half, and after another slow stretch allowed Gardner-Webb to get within 12, the Terps were never in danger. By the time Maryland’s walk-ons were in the game with 1:38 to play, it was a 26-point margin.

The Terps’ soft midseason stretch continues Tuesday night, when Division-III Catholic visits College Park. After that, it’s a nine-day layoff as Maryland students take final exams.

Three things to know

1. It was a good day to be without two big pieces. The 6’7 Jackson and 6’10 Fernando are averaging a combined 20 points and 13.7 rebounds per game this season; they’re Maryland’s two leading rebounders. Gardner-Webb exploited their absence and hung around on the boards, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs simply didn’t have the firepower to stay in this game.

2. Joshua Tomaic made his biggest impact yet. The redshirt freshman played six of the last eight minutes in the first half, pulling down three rebounds and getting on the scoreboard with a three-pointer. He finished with nine points and six boards in 16 minutes, all career bests. Even though Maryland shouldn’t need too much production from him in bigger games, he presents an enticing option.

3. The turnover bug is still there, but was less of a presence. We can’t pretend that committing 11 turnovers against Gardner-Webb is a great thing, but it is a much smaller number than 19 in the last contest and 25 the game before that. Maryland was inconsistent in this realm, following a relatively clean start with three giveaways in four possessions. There’s still both room and time for improvement.