When forward Bruno Fernando was called for a moving screen with about 12 minutes left in Maryland men's basketball's 75-67 loss to Purdue on Wednesday, the freshman stood in place for a couple seconds and looked around the arena.
After a few seconds, he trudged his way toward the Terps bench, knowing he had four fouls and would be replaced.
But Fernando returned about five minutes later and navigated the final seven-and-a-half minutes defending daunting Purdue center Isaac Haas without fouling out. He came alive on the offensive end, putting together one of the best games of his young career.
Meanwhile, fellow freshman Darryl Morsell shined in the second half of the team's toughest test of the season. It was a significant step forward for two Terps who have struggled to consistently have an impact in Big Ten play.
"They both really stepped up," guard Jared Nickens said. "That helped a lot."
Playing with four fouls, Fernando scored 10 points in the final six minutes to match Haas with a game-high 20 points.
He entered Wednesday averaging 3.8 points over his previous five games. In the team's three biggest matchups to that point — then-No. 6 Michigan State on Sunday, then-No. 23 Michigan on Jan. 15 and Ohio State on Jan. 11 — the Angolan shot a combined 4-for-13 and scored nine points.
"Sometimes young kids practice a certain way, then they get in front of the lights [and] they turn into another player," coach Mark Turgeon said. "Bruno has done that to me a few times. Tonight in the second half, he settled in. … He looked like he's been playing in practice."
Fernando said having four fouls increased his focus and attention to detail, knowing Turgeon had virtually nobody to replace him if he fouled out.
"It was just something that I put in my mind," Fernando said. "We got one more guy down, so I just gotta step up and do extra things."
While Turgeon said Fernando's breakout performance was a reflection of his practice play, Morsell's 11-point second half was the result of an intentional shift in the freshman's focus.
After Sunday's 74-68 loss to Michigan State, Turgeon sent Morsell a text. Rather than continuing to try to develop the freshman's 3-point shot — Morsell is 3-for-22 from deep this year — Turgeon asked him to work on his midrange game.
Morsell said that's an area where he dominated before college. But since arriving at Maryland, he's been intent on extending his range. The efforts have been fruitless, and opponents have noticed.
"Second half, Darryl figured out how to play with someone not guarding him. No one's guarding him in the league," Turgeon said. "He was terrific."
Multiple times against the Boilermakers, Morsell received the ball on the perimeter with no defender around him. He dribbled a few steps inside the three-point line, rose, shot and scored.
"I just got more aggressive in the second half," Morsell said. "Started looking for my shot."
While Haas victimized Morsell and Fernando at times with his 7-foot-2 frame, the freshmen's performance in a hostile environment against one of the conference's most experienced teams was a promising sign for a group desperate for a more balanced scoring attack.
"We grew up a lot in this game," Fernando said. "We did a lot of things that we couldn't do before, [and] it was against a great team."