The biggest cheers during the Maryland men’s basketball game Tuesday night went to new Terps football coach Michael Locksley, who was introduced at halftime, and to a video showing the men’s soccer team’s celebration of its NCAA championship Sunday night in California.
That’s not to say the men’s basketball team didn’t get some ovations of its own, mostly two freshmen with the same last name but completely different games, during Maryland’s 94-71 victory over Loyola Maryland.
Coming off what turned out to be a disappointing homecoming Saturday in Baltimore, when he scored just one point against Loyola Chicago and spent most of the afternoon in foul trouble, forward Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph) finished with a career-high 20 points.
Shooting guard Serrel Smith Jr., who has spent the first month of his college career trying to find both consistency in his shot and a role on his team, might have found both, hitting his first four shots en route to 10 points.
Junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. led Maryland (9-2) with 23 points and added five rebounds and five assists.
Junior guard Andrew Kostecka led Loyola (4-7) with 18 points, while junior guard Chuck Champion added 16.
Leading 46-28 on a 3-pointer by freshman wing Aaron Wiggins right before the halftime buzzer and by as many as 24, 55-41, early in the second half, the Terps watched the Greyhounds twice cut the lead to 10.
After coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout, the Terps went on a 19-0 run in a span of less than four minutes, with Cowan scoring the eight of the first 11 and Jalen Smith finishing it with a two-handed dunk off a slick feed by fellow freshman Eric Ayala.
The victory for the Terps, who fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll with last Thursday’s 62-60 loss at Purdue in their Big Ten road opener, was a good way for Turgeon’s young team to go into its 11-day break for final exams before playing Seton Hall on Dec. 22.
After hitting 17 of 52 3-point shots the past two games, Maryland wound up seven of 14 in the first half and 11-for-21 for the game. As long as the Terps can hit 3s with a little consistency, teams are not going to be able to collapse on Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando inside.