Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon on his team's win Saturday over Ohio State University. (Don Markus / Baltimore Sun)
The 14-point lead over Ohio State was down to two Saturday. The big crowd at Xfinity Center, which came for a “whiteout” and thought it was seeing a blowout, was understandably nervous.
No. 24 Maryland was not, having gone through a similar scenario in Tuesday’s down-to-the-wire win at No. 21 Iowa, the program’s first road victory over a ranked team in 11 years.
And sophomore center Bruno Fernando certainly wasn’t. Having gone scoreless in the first half, Fernando finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds to help the Terps beat the Buckeyes, 72-62.
Junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. had helped Maryland (21-7, 12-5 Big Ten) to its big lead, with 10 of his game-high 19 points in the first half. Cowan now has 1,291 for his career, one more than Joe Smith.
Freshman guard Serrel Smith Jr. did his share of damage, too, scoring a career-high 14 points and getting extended minutes after fellow freshman Eric Ayala left in the first half feeling ill.
Smith hit three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer, and sophomore guard Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) made a pair before Fernando showed off his growing skill package.
First he grabbed a missed shot by Morsell and fed a fast-cutting Aaron Wiggins for a dunk. Then, after a 3-pointer by freshman forward Justin Ahrens cut it to 64-58, Fernando spun from his right to his left and scored again.
Ohio State (17-10, 7-9), led by freshman guard Duane Washington Jr.’s 15 points, never threatened again.
The victory was the fourth in five games for the suddenly revived Terps. Maryland plays its final road game of the regular season Wednesday night at Penn State before hosting No. 7 Michigan next Sunday and Minnesota for senior night March 8.
Maryland showed its backcourt depth when Ayala went to the locker room in the first half and never returned. Along with Serrel Smith Jr., Wiggins added seven points. Morsell had 11 to go with eight rebounds. The Terps also showed they might be better with four perimeter players on the floor with Fernando. It might mean fewer minutes for freshman forward Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph), who struggled for the third straight game, finishing with five points, four rebounds and four turnovers in 23 minutes.