Smith’s double-double carries Maryland past Delaware 73-67
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Though Mark Turgeon was clearly disappointed with the fashion in which Maryland frittered away a huge lead, he took consolation in knowing the best is yet to come from his young squad.
Jalen Smith had 19 points and 13 rebounds in his college debut, Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan each scored 15 and Maryland opened its 100th season by squeezing past Delaware 73-67 Tuesday night.
The Terrapins let a 22-point lead shrink to 70-67 before Cowan made three free throws to stifle the comeback bid.
"Obviously not the way we wanted to finish the second half," said Turgeon, now in his eighth year as Maryland's coach. "Couldn't score around the rim, missed a couple free throws and we let the offense affect our defense. We stopped guarding."
Maryland won with a roster that contains six freshmen, four sophomores and one scholarship senior.
"This young team is going to get better, and it's going to get better quickly," Turgeon said. "We all would have liked to win that game by 24 or 26. I probably would have slept better tonight. But I think we got more out of it because we had to do some things."
Fernando, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, went 5 for 5from the floor and tallied 11 points to help Maryland take a 44-27 halftime lead. It was 58-36 with just under 15 minutes left when Delaware launched its comeback behind senior Eric Carter, who scored 22 of his career-high 29 points in the second half.
"We battled and clawed, and unfortunately we didn't get it done," coach Martin Ingelsby said.
Fernando wasn't around at the finish after fouling out, but the 6-10 Smith filled the lane adequately in his absence. When both were in the game, they teamed to give Maryland a formidable presence in the frontcourt.
"They're really tall. They're talented. They're athletic," Ingelsby said.
The Terps snagged 15 offensive rebounds and finished with a 44-33 rebounding advantage, which offset their miserable 2-for-19 shooting from 3-point range.
That's OK — for now.
"We're young. But I think we work well together," Fernando said. "How long will it take? I can't say that. We've just got to trust and process and keep working, getting better every day."
Delaware fell to 0-10 against Big Ten goes, even though Carter went 12 for 14 from the floor and had a team-high nine rebounds.
Delaware led only once, 20-19 with 10 minutes elapsed, before successive dunks by Fernando and Joshua Tomaic put the Terps in charge.
After the Blue Hens closed to 29-26, a dunk by Fernando launched a 15-1 spree. Delaware did not make a basket over the final 5 minutes of the half.
Delaware: The Blue Hens are picked to finish seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association, but it was hard to tell by their performance on the road against a Big Ten squad after trailing by 17 at the break.
"I challenged our group at halftime to kind of dig in and fight and not worry about the score, put some game pressure on (Maryland)," Ingelsby said.
Maryland: The Terrapins should improve as they mature, and Smith appears on his way to a terrific freshman season.
The fans were nervous after Maryland blew most of its big lead, but Turgeon coached with an inner calm.
"This game I never felt like we were going to lose. I always felt like we were in control," he insisted.
Maryland was outscored 40-29 in the second half and went 9 for 31 from the floor over the final 20 minutes.
Delaware takes another shot at a road victory, facing St. Peter's of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Saturday night.
Maryland takes a short trip to Annapolis on Friday night to take on Navy in the Veteran's Classic.
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