The heavily favored Maryland men’s basketball team looked like it was going to raise the self-esteem of another nonconference opponent Friday night, but the Terps finally put a stubborn Navy team in its place.
Anthony Cowan Jr. led all scorers with 24 points and Bruno Fernando grabbed 10 rebounds on the way to a 78-57 victory over the Midshipmen in the second game of the fifth annual Veterans Classic at Alumni Hall.
The Terps (2-0) looked like they were going to dominate from the opening tip. They jumped out to a quick 14-4 lead, but struggled to sink open shots and had enough sloppy moments around the basket to let the Mids (0-2) hang around until intermission.
That created the opportunity for Navy to come out hot in the second half and erase an eight-point halftime deficit, bringing the Terps face-to-face with the possibility of another scare like the one they survived against Delaware … or worse.
The Mids tied the game three times and were still very much in the game until the final 13 minutes, when the Terps snapped a 39-39 tie with a 17-6 run to put the game away.
Freshman Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph), who scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the unexpectedly tense season opener, continued to show why he was such a prized recruit. He didn’t match those big numbers, but controlled the boards early in the game and finished with 11 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes. Sophomore Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) added 15 points and six rebounds while fresman Aaron Wiggins chipped in 12 points.
Sophomore guard Cam Davis led the Mids with 12 points and freshman guard John Carter Jr. led Navy with eight rebounds.
For Navy, it was the first of three games the Mids will play this month against Maryland colleges. They host Coppin State on Wednesday night and play at Morgan State on Nov. 20.
Instant analysis: The Maryland men’s basketball team took care of business Friday night, but it was risky business just like their uneven season opener against Delaware. Obviously, there are a lot of new players who have to get to know each other, but the Midshipmen have their share of new guys and they seemed pretty comfortable in their skin in friendly Alumni Hall. Navy could not match up underneath against Maryland and no one really expected they would, but they made some big shots early in the second half to keep things interesting. Regardless of the outcome, it would have been quite a night, with the fifth annual Veterans Classic featuring an exciting early game and a pair of local teams that had not played each other since the 1985 NCAA tournament. The Terps won that one, too. This time, there was no David Robinson-Len Bias star power on the court, but Robinson classed up the evening sitting courtside and got a nice ovation when he was introduced on the floor in the first half.
Wichita State 83, Providence 80
The first game featured Providence and Wichita State, two teams that played in the NCAA tournament last March and are in different stages of rebuilding this season.
The Friars appeared to possess the better balance of youth and experience, but the Shockers, with 12 underclassmen on their roster, came back from an early 10-point deficit to score an 83-80 victory.
Senior forward Markis McDuffie led the way with a career-high 32 points and senior guard Samajae Haynes-Jones added 15 points and eight assists as the Shockers rebounded from a poor shooting performance in their season-opening loss to Louisiana Tech.
Junior guard Alpha Diallo was the top scorer for Providence with 27 points in a strong all-around performance. He also led the Friars with 10 rebounds and five assists.
Providence freshman A.J. Reeves, who scored 29 points in his college debut against Siena on Tuesday, delivered another big double-digit performance. He scored nine of the Friars’ first 15 points, and finished with 19 on a 7-for-10 shooting night.
Diallo and Reeves were a combined 15-for-23 from the floor and 7-for-14 from beyond the arc, but they did not get a lot of help.
Sweet and sour shooting
Both the Terps and Mids shot poorly in the first half, Maryland converting on just 10 of 32 shots and three of 15 from the 3-point line. The Mids hit just seven of 26 shots before the break and were a bit better from long range, sinking four of 13 3-point tries.
Neither team could blame the building. Alumni Hall is an intimate facility, but the shooting background didn’t affect either Wichita State or Providence. The Shockers shot 50 percent from the field (30-for-60) and hit 12 of 22 3-point attempts. The Friars shot 46.7 percent from the field (28-for-60) and converted 11 of 29 3-point attempts.