After an uninspiring 20 minutes of basketball, Maryland turned on the jets in the second half for an 80-69 win over Hofstra.
Like Monday’s game against North Carolina A&T, Bruno Fernando was once again a beast when he was on the floor. The sophomore came off the bench and then played just seven minutes in the first half with foul trouble, but finished with 17 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-8 shooting. Maryland’s top six players finished in double figures, with Eric Ayala scoring 14, Aaron Wiggins adding 13, Darryl Morsell finishing with 12 and Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith both chipping in 11.
The Terps also did a good job holding Justin Wright-Foreman in check on the floor, holding him to just 6-of-16 shooting. However, the sophomore got to the line throughout the game, going 11-of-12 from the charity stripe to finish with 27 points.
The Pride shot 41 percent from the field compared to Maryland’s 51 percent, but some early first-half three-pointers allowed Hofstra to control the game. Hofstra shot 6-of-16 from beyond the arc in the first half, but only 3-of-11 in the last 20 minutes. Maryland, on the other hand started the night shooting 2-of-12 on three-pointers and finished 7-of-22. The Terps also controlled the glass, outrebounding the Pride 42-24 for their biggest rebounding margin of the season.
Maryland hit five of its first seven shots to jump out to an early 11-3 lead, and it looked like the Terps were on their way to a second straight easy victory. But Hofstra settled into the game after that, going on an 11-2 run to take a 14-13 lead. After four lead changes in less than four minutes, the Pride controlled the rest of the half. They hit threes on back-to-back possessions to take a 22-18 lead with 8:35 remaining in the first half, and never let Maryland get closer to tying the game before intermission.
The Terps started to struggle against Hofstra’s zone, with multiple players forcing their own shots while Bruno Fernando watched on the bench after picking up two early fouls. Like every other game this season, Fernando did whatever he wanted, and bullied through Hofstra’s double teams to score six points on his first three shots.
With Fernando out, Maryland’s offense never got into a flow and had countless sloppy possessions. The Terps had six turnovers in the last five minutes, and Cowan got pickpocketed on back-to-back possessions that resulted in a steal and score for Hofstra and a 27-22 lead with 4:59 to go in the half. The Pride kept Maryland at bay for the rest of the half, and scored the last four points to lead 37-31 at halftime.
Hofstra pushed the lead to eight to start the second half, but Maryland rallied back to retake the lead over a few testy minutes. Fernando was working through another double team with 16:41 remaining in the second half and the Terps trailing 44-40 when he got hooked by Dan Dwyer. The sophomore had to be held back by Smith, and Dwyer was given a flagrant foul. After he missed both free throws, Smith answered back with a tough finish through contact and caught Eli Pemberton with an elbow.
A fast-break finish by Morsell tied the game on the next possession, and Ayala hit a three after a stop on the other end to bring Maryland all the way back. The Terps continued to creep further ahead after that, and back to threes by Aaron Wiggins gave Maryland its first double-digit lead with 8:33 remaining.
Hofstra tried to fight back but Maryland led by double digits for the rest of the game. The lead was double digits for most of the final minutes.
Maryland will be back in action Sunday when it takes on Mount St. Mary’s at 4 p.m. at the Xfinity Center.
Three things to know
- Bruno Fernando makes a huge difference. Without the sophomore in the first half, the Terps looked lost on offense and lacked energy. Having him on the floor opened up the lane for everyone else, and the energy Fernando brings provided a spark on the defensive end as well, including a huge block on Jacquil Taylor following an alley-oop late in the second half.
- Maryland is an incredibly streaky team from outside. The Terps started the game 3-for-13 from beyond the arc, but hit four of their last nine. Ayala, who was 0-for-5 from deep entering Friday, went 3-of-5, while Wiggins was 3-of-6.
- The Terps have yet to develop much of a bench. Once again, it was Maryland’s top six players playing most of the minutes and the whole second half. Ivan Bender, Serrel Smith Jr. and Ricky Lindo saw time in the first half but Wiggins was the only one to check in and play serious minutes in the second half. It’s still early, but Maryland will need to develop a deeper rotation once the competition gets tougher.