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Maryland basketball hangs on for 73-67 win over Delaware in season opener

The Terps let a 22-point lead dwindle to three, but they open the season with a victory.

Maryland basketball Bruno Fernando vs. Delaware Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

It’s a new college basketball season, and Maryland is 1-0.

The Terps opened their 100th campaign with a 73-67 win over Delaware in College Park. It was a closer contest than it needed to be, as Maryland appeared to have pulled away late in the first half but let the Blue Hens back in it. A 22-point second-half lead would be trimmed all the way down to three, but Maryland had just enough down the stretch.

Freshman forward Jalen Smith led the way with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore center Bruno Fernando was dominant, with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting, but battled foul trouble in the second half and was off the floor as Delaware made the game interesting. He returned briefly but picked up his fifth foul with 3:44 remaining. Junior point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. finished with 15 points on an off-shooting night, finishing just 4-for-14 from the field and 7-for-10 from the foul line. Delaware’s Eric Carter led all scorers with 29 points on 12-of-14 shooting and added nine rebounds.

As a team, Maryland shot just 40 percent, a number dragged down by a 29 percent showing in the second half. The Terps also struggled mightily from deep, connecting on just two three-pointers in 19 attempts. Maryland held a 22-10 rebounding advantage at halftime, but didn’t have the same success in the second half with Fernando sidelined, leading 44-33 in the category at the final whistle.

Maryland led for the majority of the first half, but the Terps got off to a rather sluggish start. They struggled with the long ball, shooting just 2-of-11 from three-point range and missing their last seven in the half. Delaware kept it close, fighting back from an early 14-8 deficit to take its first lead of the night at 20-19 with 9:59 remaining in the period.

But the Terps turned on the jets late in the first half. In the final 4:33 before the intermission, Maryland went on a 15-1 run and made five of six field goals. The Terps’ lead reached double digits for the first time at the 2:50 mark, and Maryland led 44-27 at halftime. Fernando’s 11 points—which came off five dunks and a free throw—led all scorers at the break.

The Terps extended the lead early in the second half, but then came an extended letdown. Delaware made its run midway through the period, trimming a 22-point Maryland lead down to 10 with 9:44 remaining thanks to a 12-0 run over a four-minute stretch. Mark Turgeon called time, but the charge would continue, a a Jacob Cushing corner three with 6:41 left made it a 61-54 game, and a quick pair of baskets made it 63-58 with 5:45 to play.

With 3:24 remaining, Maryland’s lead was back up to 70-62. But two Delaware buckets and a pair of missed free throws from Smith brought the Blue Hens back within three. Cowan went 1-of-2 at the line with 1:07 left to make it a four-point game, and Smith swatted a Kevin Anderson layup on the ensuing possession. Another missed layup proved to be Delaware’s downfall.

Maryland plays Navy at 8:30 p.m. Friday night as part of the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Maryland.

Three things to know

1. Maryland needs Bruno Fernando. The sophomore center made the most of his 20 minutes, tallying 15 points on 6-of-6 dunking. Delaware has more size than a lot of mid-majors—two of the Blue Hens’ starters are at least 6’9—but didn’t have any answers for the 6’10 Angolan. However, after Fernando entered the second half with just two fouls, he picked up his third and fourth with plenty of time remaining and his fifth with 3:44 still on the clock. Smith ultimately bailed the Terps out, but Maryland can’t rely on him every time out.

2. Three-point shooting is a clear concern. This team has shooters, but nobody was knocking anything down in this one. After Darryl Morsell and Aaron Wiggins connected on early threes, Maryland missed 16 in a row. The Terps ended the night 2-of-19. That’s bad.

3. The minutes disparity shows a clear gap. In its season opener, Maryland had a top six and a bottom four. The starters all played at least 20 minutes, while freshman guard Eric Ayala played 28. The next-highest total was Ricky Lindo’s 10 minutes; he was consistently part of the action but recorded just two points and four rebounds. Serrel Smith Jr. saw nine minutes, and Ivan Bender and Joshua Tomaic played just four each. Maryland will need more from its second string as the season continues.

From StatBroadcast