Maryland men’s basketball made it five straight wins on Friday night with a 78-75 win against No. 22 Indiana. It’s the Terps’ fourth straight conference victory and the second straight game it used a second-half push to put the game away.
Bruno Fernando had a career game, finishing with a career-high 25 points to go with 13 rebounds. Meanwhile, Anthony Cowan Jr. put in 24 points to go with a game-high seven assists and five boards.
The Terps had another slow start but took the lead thanks to a dominant second-half start and maintained it the rest of the way. Romeo Langford was a problem, as advertised, putting in a game-high 28 points, but Maryland found a way to come out on top.
Here a some takeaways from the game.
Maryland continues to start slow.
The Terps found themselves on the wrong end of an 11-2 deficit to start the game, missing each of their first five attempts and just one of their first seven shots. It didn’t get much better over the first 12 minutes, as Maryland had six turnovers on 26 percent shooting, while giving up a 64 percent start, en route to a 24-11 deficit.
The lead wouldn’t drop under 10 again until 2:58, with the aid of a four-minute Indiana scoring drought. Maryland would get it as close as five, but ended the half trailing 35-27. The Terps flipped the script in the second half, with a staggering 16-0 run to take a 43-37 lead into the first media break of the half and wouldn’t trail again.
“Ever since I’ve had this team in Italy this summer, there’s something about them I can’t explain,” head coach Mark Turgeon told reporters after the game. ”And I think it’s about how much they care about each other and love each other and how they play hard for each other. It’s just something in them.”
Anthony Cowan got Maryland going.
Cowan had eight points in the first half, but once again put in serious work in the second half. Nearly every shot he took was contested, and he tallied 16 points in the second half. He accounted for half of the 16-0 run that would prove decisive, with two threes and a layup across that stretch. Cowan would later loosen his claim on the reins as Fernando barreled towards a career night.
Whereas last season Cowan may have forced the issue, he picked his spots this time. While nearly all his shots were contested, all were solid attempts. He'd tally four second-half assists and three went to Fernando, including setting up the sophomore’s wide-open three. Cowan then buried all six of his free-throw attempts in the final minute to keep the game out of reach for Indiana.
“When we talked about it at the beginning of the year, [Turgeon] always said he [doesn't] know if my numbers are going to go up, but he definitely saw my growth as an overall basketball player,” Cowan said.
And Bruno Fernando carried the Terps the rest of the way.
The second half also saw Fernando grow in front of a crowd of 39 NBA scouts and take hold of the game. He finished with his ninth double-double of the season and banked in his second three-pointer of the year. Seventeen of his 25 points came in the second half, and he consistently found the open man when the Hoosiers brought the double team.
“I think I was just finding myself open a lot of times,” Fernando said. “Setting ball screens then just drive to the rim every time I can and the guards did a great job of finding me at the rim.”
Fernando once again held the emotional torch for Maryland, with each basket further validating the Terps’ belief they could win. A vicious rejection and a rim-rattling dunk just added fuel to the fire. The center would finish 11-of-12 from the field, and together, Cowan and Fernando accounted for 14 points during the 16-0 run and 33 of Maryland's 49 second-half points. They found each other on looks throughout the half, deferring really only to each other to keep Maryland ahead the rest of the way.
Maryland had just one turnover in the final 20 minutes, as the young team continues to add valuable wins to its resume. Next up is a Wisconsin team on Monday that bounced Maryland from the Big Ten tournament last season.