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Takeaways from Maryland basketball’s win over Navy

The Terps had an off shooting night, but pulled away down the stretch to beat the Midshipmen.

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

Maryland basketball won its first road game of the young season Friday night, with a 78-57 victory over Navy in the Veterans Classic.

The game was preceded by a high-scoring 83-80 Wichita State win over Providence, but the back half of the doubleheader was played at a much slower place until the Terps ran away at the end. The 21-point win is a little deceptive, as the game was close for much of the contest.

After opening cold and going into the half up 33-25, the Terps let the Midshipmen tie the game shortly into the second half. After trading baskets for a few possessions, Maryland re-established its lead and would it as high as 22 before head coach Mark Turgeon pulled the starters.

Maryland stayed committed to defense and finished with eight steals and four blocks while holding Navy to 36.5 percent from the field. Anthony Cowan Jr. put the team on his back down the stretch, working on both ends and finishing with 24 points, on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, as well as six assists, three rebounds and four steals.

The Terps were able to turn the final score into a blowout, and left Alumni Hall with a win. Here are a couple takeaways from the Terps’ first road win.

This is firmly Anthony Cowan’s team.

Mark Turgeon departed from the lineup he’s used thus far in the preseason and season opener, starting Eric Ayala next to Cowan. The move pushed Darryl Morsell to sixth man and was reminiscent of when, as a freshman, Cowan started next to Melo Trimble, pushing Trimble off-ball. Ayala handled point guard duties, and Cowan stepped up as a go-to scorer. Cowan started slow, missing his first three shots before nailing a midrange jumper after nearly losing his footing in the lane.

Navy was able to take advantage of a poor shooting night and claw back to tie the game at 35, it was Cowan who nailed a transition three a couple plays later to push the lead to five. He was later all over a series of transition plays that finished with buckets by either him or Morsell. The junior guard never stopped scoring and kept his foot on the gas until Maryland was up 22 with 1:32 left.

He was also a menace on the defensive end, hounding senior Hasan Abdullah the entire game. Abdullah, the pace-setter for the Midshipmen, was never able to get in a groove and Cowan ballhawked his way to four steals in the contest. His three-point percentage still leaves something to be desired, as he went just 2-of-9 from downtown, but that’s a team-wide issue right now. As the most experienced starter, Cowan was always going to be relied upon this season, his performance against Navy showed why.

The zone is still affecting shooting.

Maryland came into this game knowing it would be seeing mostly a zone. It’s a staple of head coach Ed DeChellis’ Navy teams and forced the Terps into a lot of bad looks in late shot-clock situations. As a result, Maryland leaned heavily on the deep ball early on, but rarely found the mark. The Terps would finish the half shooting 31 percent from the field and hitting just 3-of-15 from deep.

Maryland found its footing in the second half, shooting 55 percent in the final 20 minutes, but still couldn’t get much from beyond the arc. The Terps hit just 2 of 8 threes in the period, but limiting the attempts from deep helped Maryland find its gear on offense. The zone has been a kryptonite to Turgeon teams over the past couple years, and will continue to be until Maryland can make teams pay for leaving shooters open. Moreover, the Terps have to find a way to consistently beat the zone and get buckets at the rim in the halfcourt.

Maryland still needs to find its best lineups.

For the second straight game Maryland struggled to keep Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith on the floor at the same time or get quality production out of its bench. Both of those points come with caveats, as both Fernando (nine points, 10 rebounds) and Smith (11 points, five rebounds, a block and two steals) had solid games and Morsell added 15 off the bench.

With Navy’s defense causing the havoc it did, despite being a smaller team height-wise, staggering Fernando and Smith made sense within the game flow. However, for this team to come close to reaching its ceiling, Turgeon needs his two bigs to play off of each other. In terms of bench production, outside Morsell’s 15, Maryland got just two points off the pine. Those came from Ivan Bender.

Cowan helped Maryland stem the tide, and a ton of trips to the free throw line (23-of-27) helped stem the tide until its offense arrived. However, Turgeon still needs to identify one or two more players who can give a little more than 10 quality minutes and some scoring.