Maryland basketball had no trouble with North Carolina A&T, cruising past the Aggies 82-59 Monday night to move to 3-0 on the season.
Like the Delaware game, Bruno Fernando was a monster when he was on the floor. The sophomore manhandled any defender who got in his way, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He was one of five players in double figures, with Aaron Wiggins scoring 14, Anthony Cowan Jr. and Darryl Morsell adding 13 each and Jalen Smith chipping in 12. It’s the first time Wiggins has scored in double figures this season.
It looked like another cold shooting game early, as Maryland missed its first seven three-pointers. But Cowan and Wiggins heated up as the game went on, and the Terps made 10 of their last 23 three-point shots to finish 10-for-30 from beyond the arc.
Maryland shot a respectable 47 percent from the field, and a strong performance on the glass allowed made up for an average night on defense. The Aggies shot 39 percent from the field, but the Terps outrebounded North Carolina A&T 45-30.
The only area where Maryland left something to be desired was on free throws. The Terps shot just 10-for-16 from the foul line, with Fernando struggling at 3-for-7.
North Carolina A&T actually led 8-6 about three minutes into the game, but that’s when the Fernando show started. He scored Maryland’s next four field goals, starting with a vicious slam dunk, adding a stepback jumper and converted two second chance opportunities.
After both teams traded baskets, Maryland’s freshman took over, scoring every point of an 11-0 run to push the lead to 29-13. The Terps finally started to find some consistency on three-pointers too, hitting four of their last eight threes to end the half. A deep three from Cowan extended Maryland’s lead to 24 with 40 seconds left in the first half, and Maryland would lead by the same margin at halftime.
The Terps led by more than 18 points the whole second half, and walk-ons Andrew Terrell and Travis Valmon got their first action of the season in the final minute.
Maryland is back in action on Friday when it takes on Hofstra at the Xfinity Center at 7 p.m.
Three things to know
- When he wasn’t in foul trouble, it was the Bruno Fernando show. North Carolina A&T had no answer for the 6’10 sophomore. Fernando put on a clinic inside, and even showed off a stepback jumper in the first half. The only problem is that he found himself in foul trouble for the second time in three games, so he’ll have to avoid cheap calls as Maryland’s opponents get tougher.
- Mark Turgeon went deep with his bench for the first time this season. Maryland’s starters had to play big minutes the first two games because the team didn’t put the game away until late. With the Terps opening up a double-digit lead early and Fernando getting into foul trouble, the top six of the rotation played 148 minutes while the rest of the bench played a season-high 52.
- The press is still a work in progress. Turgeon said he wanted to press more before the season, and went to it multiple times in the first half. The Aggies broke it pretty easily most of the time, and finished with 13 fast-break points.