Led by Fernando, balanced Maryland beats NC A&T 82-59
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — One solid half of basketball was quite good enough for Bruno Fernando and Maryland in a blowout victory over North Carolina A&T.
Fernando had 17 points and 12 rebounds, most of them before halftime, and the Terrapins cruised past the Aggies 82-59 Monday night.
With Fernando dominating both ends of the court, Maryland (3-0) led 49-25 at the break. The 6-foot-10 sophomore had 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes.
“Bruno, that was probably his best half since he’s been here,” Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. “Against the zone, he didn’t let it bother him. And he was tremendous on defense.”
Fernando picked up two fouls in the opening minute of the second half and remained on the bench with three fouls for nearly 10 minutes before returning to finish his fourth career double-double.
“It was disappointing for Bruno because he was really on his way to just a monster game,” Turgeon said. ‘It could have been 15, 16 rebounds and 20-some points — against a zone.”
Fernando took consolation in having a heck of a half.
“The guys were doing a great job of finding me open. I was doing a great job rebounding, trying to get second-chance points,” he said. “With those two fouls, I just went to the bench and tried to stay dialed in the game.”
The Aggies had no defense — literally — for Fernando and 6-foot-10 Jalen Smith in the middle.
“The game of basketball is all about matchups, and this was a bad matchup for us,” coach Jay Joyner said.
Aaron Wiggins scored 14 points, Anthony Cowan and Darryl Morsell each had 13 and Smith added 12 points for the Terrapins.
Turgeon went deep in his bench, but still wasn’t pleased watching Maryland outscored 34-33 over the final 20 minutes.
“We did a lot of great things in that first half,” Turgeon said. “Second half, we weren’t mentally tough enough to sustain it.”
Twelve different players scored for the Aggies (0-3), led by Kameron Langley with nine. NC A&T shot 39 percent and was outrebounded 45-30.
Joyner was most displeased with a first half in which the Aggies had four assists and eight turnovers.
“They weren’t sharing the basketball. I call it hero basketball,” Joyner said. “And hero basketball is going to get you beat 95 percent of the time, especially when you’re playing a Power 5 school.”
The Terrapins led 13-10 before a three-point play by Fernando sparked a 16-3 run. The surge was capped by Smith, who dunked at the end of a fast break at the outset of a three-point play.
Maryland’s 11 offensive rebounds before halftime matched the number of defensive rebounds by the Aggies.
The Terps led 59-33 with 16:21 left, let the margin dwindle to 18 with just over eight minutes to go and coasted to the finish.
The Aggies’ tight zone dared Maryland to shoot from the outside, and the Terps took the offer.
Maryland went 10 for 30 from beyond the arc after going 7 for 42 in its first two games.
“This is the best we’ve played in our first three games, so we’re heading the right way,” Turgeon said.
NC A&T: The Aggies understand that early-season games like this one are very difficult to win, but the lessons learned from playing a Big Ten team on the road could pay off when it’s time to start play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Maryland: With six freshmen and three sophomores, the Terrapins need games like this to learn how to work in unison and play to each other’s strengths. That’s what happened here, as Maryland notched 24 assists (on 31 baskets) and got ample contributions from role players who may be needed when the competition gets tougher.
NC A&T: The Aggies stay on the road against Hofstra on Wednesday night.
Maryland: The Terps host Hofstra on Friday night. Maryland leads the series, 4-0.