COLLEGE PARK — Maryland was trailing Fairfield by five points on its home court Tuesday night. With 12 minutes left in the first half, the 25th-ranked Terps had converted three of 11 shots - they missed their first five - and made zero trips to the foul line.
The Comcast Center crowd seemed edgy at the unsightly early score, perhaps recalling losses to other nonconference opponents - Morgan State, American, Ohio University - in the past several years.
But just like that, Landon Milbourne hit a jumper and Maryland (2-0) was off on a 15-0 run en route to a 71-42 victory in which the Terps improved as the game progressed.
The Terps won largely with defense, forcing 25 turnovers. Trapping, pressing defense has often been the team's fallback in recent years, and is likely to be so again this season.
"I thought our defense kept us in the game," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "A night like this when you don't shoot it, [defense] better be there."
The Terps shot 43.1 percent, but held the Stags to just 14 field goals and 28.6 percent shooting.
Maryland never trailed after its decisive run, which was led by Sean Mosley (a follow-up shot and two free throws) and Eric Hayes (three jumpers, including a three-pointer).
By the time Fairfield's Colin Nickerson hit a three-pointer to end the run, the Stags found themselves trailing 22-15.
For the second game in a row, the Terps won despite a subpar shooting night by Greivis Vasquez, their senior leader.
Vasquez missed eight of his first nine shots. He paused after making his 10th shot - a three-pointer that put the Terps ahead, 41-26 - and posed for the student section. Vasquez finished with seven points and six assists.
Vasquez has shot 6-for-25 in his first two games. He replied immediately when asked about his shooting by a reporter, as if anticipating the question.
"It's going to come," he said. "I've got to let it come to me, you know. I can't force anything. I'm happy when we win."
Maryland was led by Hayes with 14 points.
Fairfield (2-1), from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, was paced by freshman guard Derek Needham's 15 points.
Maryland entered the game thin up front. The Terps played without center Steve Goins (knee), Jin Soo Choi (ankle) and Dino Gregory (unspecified team rules violations).
Maryland started three guards: Vasquez, Mosley and Hayes. At times, the Terps played the second half with only one big man, freshman forward James Padgett, on the floor.
At one point, Hayes, who is 6-foot-4, found himself shooting - and making - a shot over Ryan Olander, a 6-11 center.
"Somehow he got switched out on me and I [took] a little bit of a step-back move just to fake like I'm going by him. He backed up for me and I just shot it over him," Hayes said.
As they did last year, the Terps made up for their relative lack of size with inside toughness - Milbourne had eight rebounds and Mosley played some power forward - and defense.
The Stags turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes of the game. That was an indication of what was to come.
Maryland's bigger guards trapped Fairfield early and often, and the Terps got 21 points off turnovers compared to Fairfield's five.
The Terps have one more game - against New Hampshire on Friday night - before heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.
FAIRFIELD-S.Johnson 1-5 0-0 2, A.Johnson 2-5 0-0 4, Olander 0-3 0-0 0, Needham 3-13 8-8 15, Nickerson 3-8 0-0 7, Turner 1-1 1-4 3, O'Sullivan 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan 1-5 0-0 3, Crawford 0-0 0-0 0, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Grzeck 0-0 0-0 0, Evanovich 3-9 0-0 8. Totals 14-49 9-12 42.MARYLAND-Milbourne 5-10 0-0 10, Williams 3-7 0-1 6, Hayes 5-11 2-2 14, Mosley 4-7 5-6 13, Vasquez 3-11 0-0 7, Levent 0-0 1-2 1, Bowie 3-7 1-3 8, Pearman 0-0 0-0 0, Tucker 2-3 2-2 6, Padgett 3-9 0-0 6. Totals 28-65 11-16 71.Half-Maryland 30-22. 3-point goals-Fairfield 5-19 (Evanovich 2-6, Nickerson 1-3, Jordan 1-4, Needham 1-4, S.Johnson 0-2), Maryland 4-12 (Hayes 2-5, Vasquez 1-3, Bowie 1-3, Mosley 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Fairfield 36 (A.Johnson 14), Maryland 41 (Milbourne 8). Assists-Fairfield 5 (Needham 3), Maryland 13 (Vasquez 6). Total fouls-Fairfield 18, Maryland 10. A-16,227.