Eric Hayes scored 14 points, Landon Milbourne had 10 points and eight rebounds, and the 25th-ranked Terrapins pulled away to a 71-42 victory Tuesday night.
Maryland (2-0) took the lead for good with a 15-0 run in the first half, then took control with a 14-4 spurt immediately after halftime. Fairfield (2-1) scored only 20 points on 5-for-26 shooting after intermission and had 25 turnovers overall.
"I was pleased with our defense," Terrapins coach Gary Williams said. "During the first half, when we were struggling to make a shot, I thought our defense kept us in the game. We're starting to get it in terms of how hard you have to play to be a good defensive team."
After opening the season with an 89-51 rout of Charleston Southern, Maryland resurfaced in the AP poll this week for the first time since the end of the 2006-07 season.
"It's always great to be ranked and noticed as one of the top 25 teams in the country," Hayes said, "but coach tells us it really doesn't matter where we are right now. It's where we are at the end of the season. So we're just trying to keep moving up."
Sean Mosley scored 13 for the Terps, and senior guard Greivis Vasquez had six assists but was limited to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting. In two games, Vasquez is 7 for 25 from the floor.
"He's a marked man, there's no doubt about it. He's got to handle that," Williams said. "I'd rather him miss now than miss later."
Vasquez was 1 for 9 before hitting a 3-pointer from the left side to put Maryland ahead 41-26 with 14:12 left. As soon as the ball dropped through the net, he turned his head toward the crowd and flashed a "check-that-out" look.
"[My shot] will come. I can't force anything," Vasquez said. "I'm happy when we win. It's not about me."
Freshman Derek Needham scored 15 for Fairfield. The Stags trailed by only eight points at halftime, but fell hopelessly behind after making only one basket in the opening 7½ minutes of the second half.
"Inexperience showed all over the place," said coach Ed Cooley, whose starting lineup contains three freshmen and a sophomore. "I thought we had good spurts but didn't have the experience to sustain it."
Milbourne made two straight field goals immediately after halftime, then added a tip-in following a Fairfield basket. Minutes later, Maryland freshman James Padgett followed his own miss to launch an 8-0 spree that put the Terps up by 18.
"With an eight-point lead at halftime, the game is not over," Williams said. "That's two straight games we've played well coming out in the second half."
Hayes scored 10 points, and the Terrapins held Fairfield scoreless for a stretch of nearly eight minutes in going up 30-22 at halftime.
Maryland missed 11 of its first 14 shots while falling behind 12-7. Fairfield then wilted under the Terrapins' pressure defense, and Hayes peeled off seven straight points to cap a 15-point run.
After scoring seven points in the opening seven minutes, Needham did not score the rest of the half. He also had four of the Stags' 13 turnovers.
"We played great team defense," Vasquez said. "That shows what type of team we are."