Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando had double-doubles as sixth-seeded Maryland edged 11th-seeded Belmont 79-77 on Thursday in an NCAA Tournament East Regional first-round game in Jacksonville, Fla.
Smith had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Fernando added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Darryl Morsell scored 18 and Eric Ayala added 12 as the Terrapins prevailed in a back-and-forth game.
They bounced back after losing three of their previous four games, including a 69-61 setback against No. 13 seed Nebraska in the Terps’ first game in the Big Ten tournament on March 14.
In a second-round game Saturday, Maryland (23-10) will face third-seeded LSU, which defeated No. 14 seed Yale 79-74 earlier Thursday.
Dylan Windler had 35 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin McClain scored 19 to lead Belmont (27-6), which defeated Temple 81-70 in a play-in game Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. The Bruins fell 10 points short of their scoring average of 87.4, which is second to only Gonzaga in Division I.
Belmont led by six points at halftime, but Fernando had seven points and an assist during a 14-0 run by Maryland to start the second half.
Windler ended the Bruins’ drought with five straight points, and the lead changed hands five times from there. The Bruins’ final time taking the lead came when McClain’s three-point play started a 10-2 run by the Bruins, giving them a 67-60 lead with seven minutes to play.
The Terps closed within one point twice before tying the score at 71 on Anthony Cowan Jr.’s 3-pointer with 4:07 left.
Morsell’s three-point play completed a 14-4 run that gave Maryland a 74-71 lead with 2:47 left.
Belmont twice got within a point and had a chance to take the lead in the final moments, but a Morsell steal with four seconds left and subsequent free throw sealed it for Maryland.
Maryland’s only lead of the first half was 9-8 before McClain’s jumper broke a tie and started a 15-3 run that gave the Bruins a 26-14 edge.
Belmont maintained a 12-point edge until the Terps went on a 9-0 run, pulling within 35-32 on Morsell’s layup with 3:40 left in the first half.
The Bruins increased the lead to 40-34 at halftime.
—Field Level Media