COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Though it appeared to be nothing more than another early-season blowout for Maryland, there was reason to believe the Terrapins may ultimately benefit from the fashion in which the victory was secured.
Cekovsky went 8 for 9 from the floor in tying his career high for points, set earlier this season against Kansas State. The 7-foot-1 junior also blocked three shots.
Cekovsky started at center for senior Damonte Dodd, who has a sprained left MCL and will be sidelined for at least two more games before being re-evaluated. Dodd leads the team with 17 blocked shots.
"I talk to Ceko more than anybody and coach him harder than anybody on the team," coach Mark Turgeon said. "There's a lot of potential there. He can really score. He's one of our better defenders, but his timing is not there yet."
That's because the Slovakian is still working his way back from a foot injury that sidelined him for the first four games.
Brantley, meanwhile, drilled four 3-pointers on a night the Terrapins received just 10 points from standout guard Melo Trimble.
"We've got good players, we've got good scorers," Turgeon said. "Of all three years since he's been here, I think he trusts these guys the most."
Maryland (9-1) led by seven at halftime, upped the margin to 17 with 15:57 remaining and cruised to the finish.
"Hopefully, tonight gives a lot of guys confidence and we become a deeper basketball team," Turgeon said
"We were much better in the second half," Turgeon conceded.
Howard was without high-scoring guard James Daniel, who has yet to play this season because of sprained left ankle. He led the NCAA in scoring last season, averaging 27 points per game, and was the player of the year in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
To make matters worse, leading scorer James Miller was injured early in the game and finished with no points on 0-for-5 shooting.
"Obviously, when Miller went out, it was deflating to our group of guys," coach Kevin Nickelberry said. "He thought he could go but he just couldn't."
Maryland led 18-13 before Mangham scored nine straight points to put the Bison up 22-19. Minutes later, a layup by Cekovsky and a 2-pointer by Trimble sparked an 11-0 run that helped the Terrapins take a 38-31 lead at the break.
Early in the second half, Cekovsky made a layup and a dunk in a 7-0 spurt that enabled Maryland to move in front 47-33.
"In the second half we really shot the ball, turned the ball over less, the defense was better and our rebounding was good," Turgeon said.
The plan for Maryland was to work the ball inside and shoot the 3 after the defense sagged. So what happened? Fourteen of the Terps' first 19 shots were from long range.
"We watched a lot of film and one of our keys was to play inside out," Turgeon said. "Our guys weren't doing it. That was the disappointing part. I had to go in at halftime and yell."
Maryland scored 18 points in the paint over the final 20 minutes and shot 53 percent from the floor.
THE BIG PICTURE
Howard: The Bison are simply trying to hang in there until Daniel returns. The 5-foot-10 senior is expected to be out for another 2/3 weeks.
Maryland: Turgeon went deep through his bench to get playing time for 10 players in the first half alone. If nothing else, the Terrapins learned how to play well together and effectively without help from Trimble, their go-to guy in virtually every tight situation.
Howard: The Bison face their fourth straight Washington-area opponent, George Washington, on Saturday night.
Maryland: The Terrapins are at home Saturday afternoon against St. Joseph's, which lost to Houston Baptist 62-47 Wednesday.