Bruno Fernando was sensational in Maryland basketball’s 61-51 win over Rutgers Saturday night. The freshman scored 18 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and added a block and an assist in 34 minutes.
His overall performance was arguably his best of the season, rivaled most closely by double-doubles against Penn State (17 and 11) and Purdue (20 and 10). Fernando was exceptionally efficient, missing only one of his nine field goal attempts in the game. He notably only picked up two personal fouls, which Mark Turgeon said has been the difference for Fernando over the past few games.
“He’s figured out how to stay out of foul trouble,” Turgeon said after the win. “He stays out of foul trouble and stays on the floor. He’s playing smarter. ... He’s always been good.”
Fernando’s night included four highlight-worthy dunks, including one over Rutgers guard Corey Sanders off an inbounds pass from Darryl Morsell.
“It was all him,” Morsell said. “I just put it in the right place and I knew he was going to finish it. He definitely got up there.”
Each dunk got the Xfinity Center crowd on its feet, but none was more exciting to him than his three-pointer with just under eight minutes left in the game. It was his third attempt from beyond the arc this season, but his first make.
“The three-pointer for sure,” Fernando said confidently when asked which he liked more. “The lob dunks I’m going to have every time. The three-pointer is just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
His play opened up the floor for his teammates to make plays. Anthony Cowan added 14 points of his own, while Kevin Huerter chipped in 11.
“He’s just being him,” Morsell said. “That’s what I’ve always expected of Bruno. I’ve known him since high school. I know what he’s capable of. I think he’s kind of found a rhythm, like some sense of comfortability in the offense, and he’s just playing with a lot of energy and effort.
“It opens up a lot for everybody else. Us playing with four guards already gives all the guards space and opportunities to drive and make plays because the floor is so open.”
Fernando’s newfound outside game and ability to stay out of foul trouble should help the Terps down the road as they close the regular season with Northwestern and Michigan. If Maryland is to make any kind of magical run through the Big Ten Tournament, it’ll have to be helped by great play from its freshman big man.
“He’s always bound to have one of these games,” Cowan said. “We need him to try to be as consistent as possible with it because obviously he’s a huge part of our team. But he played great tonight.”