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No. 4 Maryland women’s basketball vs. James Madison preview

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Terps travel to Harrisonburg for first away game of season

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Another day, another blowout win for No. 4 Maryland women’s basketball. The first team that attempted to lay siege to Xfinity Center, Longwood, left College Park with a 97–67 loss. The next challenger, Villanova, suffered an 88–67 drubbing. Next up, James Madison plays host to the No. 4 team in the nation.

In a 21-point win that was wrapped up by the end of the third quarter in the matchup with Villanova on Friday, head coach Brenda Frese rested four of her five starters. Katie Benzan, Mimi Collins, Ashley Owusu and Angel Reese played a combined total of nine minutes — neither Owusu nor Reese played in the final frame.

“I like the fact that we were able to rest some players just given the fact of how many games we have in a row,” Frese said.

The Terps have four games in the next week, three of which are at home. The sizeable advantage on the scoreboard gave Maryland’s coaching staff a chance to rest the starters and work out the lingering kinks on both ends of the floor.

“I liked how we were able to share the basketball on offense and then really work on some things defensively for where we needed to be,” Frese said.

Sunday’s game is set for a 2 p.m. tipoff and will air on Flosports.

Now, let’s take a look at Maryland’s opponent for Sunday.

James Madison University Dukes (1-0)

2020-2021 record: 14-10 (9-6 Colonial Athletic Association)

Head coach Sean O’Regan is in his sixth season in charge of the Dukes. During his time in Harrisonburg, O’Regan has led his team to three CAA championships — 2018, 2019, 2020 — and coached several All-CAA first-teamers.

He also has led the Dukes to multiple WNIT appearances, including a semifinals berth in 2018-19. During that same season, James Madison put together a 31-match unbeaten run at their home stadium of Convocation Center, the second-longest in team history. The team also broke the school record for three-pointers made (236) and blocks (218).

James Madison cruised to a convincing 84–69 victory against UVA at Convocation to start the season.

Players to know

Kiki Jefferson, junior guard, 6-foot-1, No. 30 — Jefferson is one of the top players in the CAA, and she has been since her freshman season. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania native was the 2019-20 CAA Rookie of the Year, named to the 2020-21 All-CAA First Team and led her team in points (388), points per game (16.2, sixth in CAA), rebounds (188), rebounds per game (7.8, seventh in CAA) and steals (26) last season. Against Virginia, Jefferson went off for a 31-point, 11-rebound double-double.

Peyton McDaniel, sophomore guard, 6-foot, No. 22 — As a freshman, McDaniel followed in Jefferson’s footsteps, earning the 2020-21 CAA Rookie of the Year. McDaniel played in 16 games — 12 of which she started — and averaged 27.7 minutes. She averaged 12.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, which led the team.

Jamia Hazell, sophomore guard, 5-foot-8, No. 25 — As a rookie last season, Hazell led the Dukes with 2.6 assists per game. In addition to being named to the CAA All-Rookie Team, Hazell averaged 25.8 minutes per game and put up 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 0.8 steals.

Strength

Scoring. James Madison finished as the third-highest scoring team in the conference last season, averaging 70.0 points. The Dukes also led the CAA in free throw percentage (76.8%) and finished third in the conference in field goal percentage (41.3) and three-point percentage (32.5).

Weakness

Depth. The benefit of having a player like Jefferson means you have a go-to scorer on any given possession. However, at times last season, the Dukes overly relied on the conference's sixth-best scorer. James Madison has only two other double-digit scorers outside of Jefferson; scoring depth could be an issue come Sunday.

Three things to watch

1. How long will Diamond Miller be out? With no clear timetable for Miller’s return, it has been a team effort to fill the void she’s left. One player in particular who feels Miller’s absence in Reese.

“[We miss her] on the defensive end, for sure. I mean, I want to be out there and try to be the best defender next minute. So I’m trying my best to be the next defender up,” Reese said.

Frese did not provide any updates on guard Diamond Miller’s injury status, but it seems as though there’s some doubt about her availability heading into Maryland’s matchup with James Madison.

“It’s hard because we’re just waiting for her to rest and be able to be more pain-free,” Frese said.

2. Will depth scoring be an advantage for Maryland again? Yet again, Maryland had six players reach double figures in points, further emphasizing the team’s ability to get production from each player on its roster. The Terps also combined for 17 assists on the evening.

“I mean, their unselfishness and really wanting to make the right play,” Frese said of what she liked against Villanova. “And then that’s how you play easy basketball — when you’re playing unselfish and you’re moving the basketball.”

3. Which team will be the more dominant side in the paint? Against the Wildcats, Maryland scored more than half its points in the paint. Of the 88 points it finished with, 46 came from inside the three-point line. With 6-foot guards running the floor, the Terps are hard to stop when they get out in transition.

“We don’t think we’re big, we’re big guards,” Reese said about herself and forwards Collins and Chloe Bibby.

Both Collins and Reese are listed as 6-foot-3 on the team’s official website, and Bibby clocks in at 6-foot-2. Maryland’s “big guards” will look to make another game-changing impact on Sunday.