Fernando dominates, Morsell limps off in Maryland's 76-45 win over Jackson State

College Park — From the recruiting weekend they spent together last year, Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell forged a relationship that has carried onto the court for Maryland this season.

On Monday, the same day Morsell was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for what he did in victories over Butler and Bucknell, Fernando had his career-high scoring night as a Terp.


Unfortunately, the Mount Saint Joseph star also suffered his first injury, though it doesn’t appear as serious as it appeared when it first happened.

Fernando scored 18 points, including 14 in the first half, to help the Terps to a 76-45 victory over Jackson State at Xfinity Center. But the bigger story, and for a while the bigger concern, was Morsell.


Morsell collapsed in obvious pain after trying to steal back a ball he had just stolen and then lost. Helped to the bench by teammate Sean Obi and trainer Matt Charvat, Morsell later went to the locker room before returning for the second half.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon breathed a little easier, calling Morsell’s injury a “slight hamstring strain” and said he is “day-to-day.” The Terps, who won their fifth straight game without a defeat this season, don’t play again until meeting St. Bonaventure at the Emerald Coast Classic Friday in Niceville, Fla.

“I was worried, I was concerned, because he’s a tough kid,” Turgeon said. “He’ll twist an ankle and just tighten the strings up and keep playing. He told me at halftime he wanted to play. I don’t know if he could have, but he said he wanted to. Four days will help, but he’s pretty important to us.”

If Maryland is forced to play without him, Turgeon will have to look for other sources to provide the qualities Morsell brings, One obvious choice is Fernando.

After playing his part in Maryland’s biggest second-half comeback under Turgeon with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, he continued to show his inside presence Monday. Starting for the second straight game, the 6-foot-10 center from Angola scored seven of Maryland’s first eight points and later in the first half, had half of his team's 26.

“He’s come a long way in five [games],” Turgeon said. “He missed 2½, three weeks of really important practice time. For him to be doing what he’s doing is pretty amazing. Showing great patience, playing with great confidence in the low block. Defensively, he’s just been off the charts, covering a lot of ground and playing shots, and he rebounded better tonight. He’s coming fast, he’s really playing well.”

Said Fernando, who also added six rebounds and three blocked shots: “I’ve been working on [posting up] a lot with my coaches. One of the key things they have always told me is be patient, let the game come to me instead of try to force anything. The only thing I try to do is be patient and make any move I can.”

Along with Morsell, Fernando had given the Terps a toughness and physicality they have lacked the past two seasons. Without Morsell by his side, Fernando played a little bit of the enforcer against Jackson State.


After the Tigers had cut their deficit to 25-21, Jackson State guard Paris Collins slapped the floor coming back on defense. Though the announced crowd of 13,103 would eventually boo Collins as if he were J.J. Redick, Fernando had his own answer with a three-point play off a lob dunk that started a 15-4 run to close the half. Fernando stared down his defender as he went back downcourt.

“Basketball game is intense. They came out ready to play,” Fernando said. “They came out intense on our home court, and they tried to talk all this crap. We just got to stay to who we are. That was one play that I thought I could answer for what they were saying.”

Without Morsell, sophomore Kevin Huerter took up the role backing up fellow sophomore Anthony Cowan Jr. at point guard. It was a position Huerter played at Shenendehowa High in upstate New York, where he led the team to a state championship as a junior and won the state’s Mr. Basketball as a senior.

“Coach Turgeon said to me at about the 16-minute mark whenever Darryl went down — he just said, ‘You’re going to have to run some point’, I was like. ‘I’m ready Coach,’” said Huerter, who finished with 14 points, three assists and two steals. “So that was a lot of fun. But when we’re out there, I think it doesn’t really matter what positions, everyone is moving the ball anywhere.”

With Fernando, the ball is going inside more consistently than it has since Alex Len’s sophomore year in 2012-13, Turgeon’s second season.


“That was something last year we missed sometimes in big games, being able to throw the ball in and get a bucket, and Bruno does that,” Huerter said. “Just a set play, getting a post on the block. A lot of times it’s an offensive rebound he has, or a broken down play or a pick and roll, he’s able to catch the ball, dribbles and makes a move. He's really good. We expected this.”

Said senior wing Jared Nickens, who also scored 14 points off the bench: “We started off slow, we fed off Bruno. We picked up our energy and everybody fed off him, including myself.”

Fernando’s performance got noticed by at least one college basketball fan, who changed Jackson State’s Wikipedia page to list “Bruno Fernando” as the school’s president.

“After tonight he is,” Huerter said with a smile.

Prepping for Syracuse

While Jackson State wasn’t scheduled for that reason, it certainly helped the Terps that the Tigers played most of the game in one zone defense or another. Turgeon said after the game that he was surprised the Tigers came out in a 3-2 zone since they hadn’t used one their first three games.


“We didn’t work on zone offense [Monday], they have played some 2-3, but they haven’t show the 3-2,” Turgeon said. “It just took us a little bit to get used to. I thought the last seven, eight minutes of the first half and the second half we really played well.”

The bad news is that Jackson’s variation of the 2-3 is not nearly as good as Syracuse’s will likely be when the Terps play the Orange at the Carrier Dome next Monday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“Give them credit. They changed up their defense every possession. They had us off balance in the first half a little bit,” Huerter said. “Obviously second half we played really well against it. They weren’t as big [as Syracuse], but they were really active and we haven’t seen a zone this year. That helped us out. We got better as the game went on.”

Feast or famine for Nickens

This season has been a roller coaster already for senior wing Jared Nickens.

After playing just five minutes in the season opener against Stony Brook at Nassau Coliseum, Nickens scored 15 against UMES by hitting all five shots he took, including four 3-pointers.


Nickens then played only four minutes each in wins over Butler and Bucknell.

The one-sided nature of Monday’s game — and Morsell leaving early — gave more opportunity to Nickens, who took seven shots in his seven first-half minutes and finished the game with 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting, 4-for-8 on 3-pointers. He also had five rebounds.

Asked whether it’s hard to find his rhythm giving his inconsistent playing time, Nickens said: “I wouldn’t say it’s hard. It’s just the plan we have for the team, and just extra work on the off-days, got to do more and stay ready.”

Nickens seemed more engaged both on going for rebounds as well as being active defensively.

“They kind of go vice versa,” Nickens said. “You like to focus on offense to get you going, with Coach Turgeon, he likes to start with defense. … I just want to stay locked and loaded, stay ready. I don’t want to talk about future games, we’re going to take it game by game and I just want to stay ready for each one.”

Jackson works on 3-point shooting


It probably wasn’t by design, but sophomore forward Justin Jackson took nearly all 3-point shots against Jackson State.

Jackson, who came into the game 1-for-10 on 3-point shots after missing his first nine this season, hit three of eight and finished with 10 points. He was fouled on a layup attempt and made one of two.

The 6-7 Canadian was Maryland’s leading 3-point shooter last season, hitting 43.8 percent.

“He made a few 3s tonight, which good,” Turgeon said. “He is feeling more confident, which is important, and I thought he really tried to guard tonight. He continues to rebound. Eight defensive rebounds in 24 minutes is terrific.”