Maryland basketball faced little resistance in its return to the win column Saturday night, as the Terps picked up a 61-51 home victory over Rutgers.
This was never much of a close contest. Maryland led for the entire game, and the margin was in double digits for most of that. The Terps seemed to take their foot off the gas a little too early, letting a large lead shrink to seven points in the waning minutes, but they still shot 50 percent to Rutgers’ 38 percent for the evening.
Bruno Fernando led the way with perhaps the most dominant performance of his freshman season, tallying 18 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. The 6’10 Angolan thrilled the Xfinity Center crowd with four dunks, then tossed in his first career three-pointer for good measure. Fernando converted eight of his nine shot attempts.
Anthony Cowan Jr. led the Terps’ supporting cast with 14 points, four rebounds, six assists and a career-high five steals. Fellow sophomore Kevin Huerter didn’t have a strong shooting performance—he was 3-for-10 from the floor and 0-for-4 from three—but he chipped in 11 points of his own. Rutgers didn’t have anyone in double figures until Eugene Omoruyi reached the plateau in the final minute.
Maryland dashed out to a 10-0 lead just under four minutes in, and Rutgers called time after an easy Fernando tomahawk dunk. The Scarlet Knights got on the board after the break, but needed another as they soon found themselves down 17-4. They started scoring points at a more frequent rate after that, making it 19-12 by the next media timeout. But Maryland stretched the lead back to 14 later in the half and took a 31-19 advantage into the locker room.
Fernando led the way with nine points and 10 rebounds—that’s two-thirds of Maryland’s first-half boards—before the break. The electric freshman also threw down three dunks, highlighted by this jam all over Rutgers’ Corey Sanders.
He clinched his third career double-double with a layup to start the second half, and Maryland was off and running again. The Terps started the half on a 10-0 run over just 2:19, bringing their lead to 22. They would hold their largest lead of 24 at the 14:39 mark and were comfortably ahead after that.
There were a few restless moments as Rutgers scored 10 straight over a three-minute stretch to make it a 55-46 game at the final media timeout. Huerter brought the gap back up to 12 after the stoppage, but the Scarlet Knights still outplayed Maryland down the stretch to make this somewhat of a game at the very end.
It’s the third consecutive weekend the Terps have avenged a midweek road loss with a weekend home victory. They’ll have one more chance to stop their road losing streak Monday night with a visit to Northwestern; after that, it’s the regular-season finale at home against Michigan in one week.
Three things to know
1. The Terps didn’t put themselves in danger. From the opening 10-0 run all the way to the finish line, Maryland was in control of the game. The lead was never less than seven for the game’s last 37 minutes, as even the lull down the stretch didn’t see the lead slip below nine.
2. Maryland’s defense was stout at home again. One week after holding Northwestern to 35 percent shooting from the floor, the Terps kept Rutgers at just under 38 percent. Even with the Scarlet Knights being one of the worst shooting teams in the nation, that’s an impressive number. Rutgers did pull down 12 offensive rebounds to Maryland’s four, but with 36 missed shots, that percentage is actually right around the Scarlet Knights’ mark for the season.
3. Bruno Fernando had his second straight brilliant outing. The freshman center followed up his 21-point, nine-rebound effort against Nebraska with 18 and 16 Saturday. That’s an average of 19.5 and 12.5, and he made 17 of his 23 shots for the week. Fernando’s rookie campaign hasn’t been the most consistent, but he’s bringing his best during the stretch run.