As the Maryland basketball team took the court for game action against Old Dominion on Wednesday for the first time in around eight months, the look and feel of the Xfinity Center was different.
Not only were there no fans in attendance to welcome the Terps back after the coronavirus pandemic thwarted the end of their -- and everybody else's -- 2019-20 campaign, but the program also added decals to the court in order to bring attention to racial injustice and systemic racism in the country.
The student-athletes decided on the messages of "End Racism" and "In Solidarity" to be displayed on the court for the season.
The messaging and importance of bringing attention to the issues in the country match the effort numerous teams and leagues have made in 2020 as civil unrest and demand for change became prevalent in recent months.
When it came time for Maryland to play, the team started off the unconventional season on the right note with an 85-67 win. After the departure of Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith following the end of last season, the Terps entered 2020-21 needing others to take on a bigger role. In their first game, they got just that.
Junior guard Eric Ayala shined, leading the team with 19 points while adding five rebounds and three assists. Ayala was perfect from the field, going 6-for-6 on field goals and an impressive 4-for-4 from the three-point line.
Aaron Wiggins added 12 points, as did Darryl Morsell. Morsell, the senior leader of the team, picked up right where he left off as the do-it-all force for the Terps. In addition to his 12 points, he added eight rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and one impressive reverse slam.
Maryland will now take on Navy on Friday at 3:00 p.m. as it looks to advance to 2-0 on the young season.