With a little more than two minutes left in the first half between Maryland and Bucknell in College Park, Md., Nov. 18, Bison forward Nana Foulland received a pass near the basket from forward Zach Thomas and challenged Terps forward Bruno Fernando by taking the ball right to the rim.
Foulland not only scored but created contact with Fernando, who kept his arms straight in the air, but he was called for his second foul of the first half. After the call, Fernando grabbed the ball, palmed it with his left hand and slammed his right hand on the ball a few times, illustrating Maryland’s frustration to that point. Foulland’s ensuing free throw made the score 44-31 in favor of Bucknell.
The Bison led, 50-35, at halftime. Bucknell got whatever shot it wanted during the half, whether that was an open 3-pointer or a one-on-one matchup down low that ended in an easy basket. The Bison made 20-of-31 shots during the first half, drained seven 3-pointers and scored 1.47 points per possession.
“We came off an emotional win the other night [against Butler Nov. 15] and I had a feeling we were going to be a little bit flat, and we were and then Bucknell was just terrific,” Terps head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It felt like they made everything in the first half; no matter what we tried, they responded.”
Turgeon began the second half with guards Anthony Cowan Jr., Darryl Morsell and forwards Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Fernando on the floor, and the two freshmen --Morsell and Fernando -- led Maryland to an 80-78 victory over Bucknell with their play over the final 20 minutes.
Morsell scored eight of the Terps’ first 10 points to start the second half, helping cut Maryland’s deficit to 53-45 less than four minutes into the half. All eight of Morsell’s points came in transition. One basket was
by Fernando, while another was
assisted by Huerter
Morsell cut into the lead a bit more once the Terps trimmed the deficit to 59-53. Morsell knifed his way through the lane from the top of the key, created contact with Bucknell’s Jimmy Sotos
, finished the play
and made the ensuing free throw to cut the deficit to three with 12:30 left in regulation.
Fernando, meanwhile, had six points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the second half.
“Darryl really changed the game, I think, when he came in. He’s a very intense player. So is Bruno. When they’re both in the game, that kind of boosts everybody’s spirits up a little bit,” Cowan, who scored a team-high 17 points on the night, said. “It makes everybody play a little bit harder. I was terrible on defense today, especially in the first half. Like I said, Darryl and Bruno, I think both picked us all up.”
But the the Terps’ most important halftime adjustments came on the defensive end, with Morsell and Fernando figuring in prominently.
Bucknell point guard Stephen Brown gave Maryland fits early, scoring 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the first half. Turgeon explained that the Terps’ game plan initially didn’t call for Cowan, who was guarding Brown in the first half, to switch on ball screens because that would’ve left the 6-foot Cowan to guard the 6-foot-7 Thomas.
Turgeon had the 6-foot-4 Morsell guard Brown in the second half, which gave the Terps the freedom to switch on ball screens – instead of going under them – since Morsell could handle Thomas, as well. Brown didn’t have as much room to operate, and he scored nine points of 4-of-10 shooting in the second half. Thomas scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting in the second half.
“That’s the reason Coach Turgeon brought me here: my versatility to guard multiple positions,” Morsell said. “We weren’t getting the job done in the first half. Coach Turgeon felt that we should do a lot of switching on handoffs and ball screens in the second half, and my versatility allowed him to do that. It was a decision he made in order to help us win.”
Turgeon said that in addition to switching on every screen in the second half, the Terps also doubled the post. Foulland and Thomas gave them problems in the first half, combining for 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Fernando’s issues with Foulland were commonplace throughout the first half no matter who was guarding him. Foulland caught entry passes deep in the post, spun and scored with a hook shot.
But Foulland scored just two points on 1-for-4 shooting in the second half, with Fernando (15 minutes in the second half) playing a key role in that.
“I think in the first half, not just me particularly but our bigs, we were a little soft in there. We just let him catch,” Fernando said. “But we watched a lot of film on him and studied his game a lot to make sure we don’t let him catch deep and just try to make a hook shot. And that’s the kind of adjustment we had to make, to do in the second half: just keep him out of the glass and out of the paint, make him catch a little farther so he doesn’t try to back you down and just pass the ball out.”
Terps center Michal Cekovsky didn’t enter the game Nov. 18 until there was 6:34 left in the first half. He quickly sat back down, put back on his warm-up jacket and didn’t take it off the rest of the night. Cekovsky was credited with having played two minutes.
“Ceko didn’t play because Ceko has the beginning, we think, stages of strep,” Turgeon said. “So he started an antibiotic. I don’t know if he has it or not -- I keep getting two different answers.”
HUERTER, MORSELL CRAMP UP:
Turgeon said Huerter (38 minutes) and Morsell (29 minutes) both cramped up Nov. 18.
Huerter’s issues surfaced when he skied for a rebound, was fouled by Bucknell’s Kimbal Mackenzie and came down hard on the court with 38 seconds left in regulation. Huerter stayed down for a minute or two, and then walked to the free throw line at the other end of the court. He made one of two free throws before leaving the game in favor of Dion Wiley. Huerter limped off the court towards the locker room at the end of the game.
Morsell, meantime, was limping during timeouts late in the game.
Maryland hosts Jackson State (Miss.) at 7 p.m. Nov. 20. The Tigers, part of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, are 1-2.