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No. 3 Maryland women’s basketball vs. UNC Wilmington preview

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The Terps will host Seahawks at Xfinity Center.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 3 Maryland women’s basketball followed its bump in the national rankings with a convincing win on Tuesday evening. Against Mount St. Mary’s, the Terps’ first-round opponent in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Brenda Frese’s squad put up 98 points.

Yet again, Maryland saw six players log double-digit scoring en route to a home drubbing of the Mountaineers. The game was as good as set after the first quarter.

“I love how we’re sharing the basketball,” Frese said. We did a phenomenal job pounding the glass. Just continuing to try to keep improving defensively. We had a lot of different matchups and rotations in there tonight. I thought we’re building it with so many games here.”

The Terps have one more game, against UNC Wilmington, before they host No. 6 Baylor on Sunday at Xfinity Center.

Thursday’s game is set for a 6 p.m. tipoff and will air on Big Ten Network.

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

UNC Wilmington Seahawks (1-1)

2020-2021 record: 7-14 (3-10 Colonial Athletic Conference)

Head Coach Karen Barefoot is in her fifth season leading the Seahawks. During her time in North Carolina, Barefoot has a 47-65 record. In 2018/19, Barefoot led the Hawks to an 18-12 record, the team’s first winning season in seven years. The team also was 13-1 at home, which tied the school record for most wins in a season. That same year, UNCW earned a share of third place in the CAA regular-season standings. Barefoot arrived in Wilmington after six productive seasons with Old Dominion, where she went 103-93. She also posted five winning seasons and three postseason appearances.

Through the first two games this year, UNCW defeated Mount Olive by nine points but fell to Duke by more than 40.

In the only meeting between the two sides, Maryland defeated UNCW in 2009, 67-61.

Players to know

Sierra DaCosta, graduate student, 5-foot-9, No. 20 — Through Wilmington’s first two games of the season, DaCosta has averaged 16 points and 3.5 rebounds. Last season, playing for East Carolina, DaCosta started 19 of 20 games and was the fourth-highest scorer with 9.2 points per game. This is her first season with the Hawks.

Dazia Powell, redshirt senior, 5-foot-10, No. 11 — Powell averaged 7.1 points and 3.9 rebounds last season. The Raleigh native started 18 of 20 games for the Seahawks. Powell also notched five double-digit scoring performances last year.

Mary McMillan, sophomore, 5-foot-6, No. 3 — The assist leader for Wilmington a season ago, McMillan averaged 3.1 helpers as a freshman. She started 18 games, averaged 7.8 points and 2.6 rebounds. She was third on the team in steals with 23 and reached double-digit scoring eight times.

Strength

Rebounding. Last year, the Seahawks were the fourth-best rebounding team in the CAA. Wilmington grabbed 842 rebounds for an average of 40.1 a game. UNCW ranked fourth in defensive boards.

Weakness

Losing top scorers. DaCosta has had a strong start to the season, but the Hawks lost their top-three scorers from a season ago. Gone are Carol-Anne Obusek, Za’Nautica Downs and Taylor Webster and their 38.1 points per game.

Three things to watch

1. Who will step up? Everyone. With Diamond Miller, knee, unavailable to play and Ashley Owusu playing limited minutes, the third ranked team in the country needed just two points to hit the century mark. Six players hit double-digit scoring, and all eight players scored. Maryland is perhaps the most well-equipped team in the nation to handle two injuries that would crush most other units.

“You gotta also think there’s like 12 of us who can all score at will,” said junior forward Mimi Collins.

2. Tune-up for Baylor. In what undoubtedly will be Maryland’s toughest test of the season, Sunday marks a three-six matchup in College Park. Baylor replaced several high-profile exits with equally impressive transfers this summer. Head coach Nicki Collen still has player-of-the-year favorite NaLyssa Smith and a deep bench to lean on. The Bears are averaging almost 80 points a game and will push Maryland for the full 40 minutes.

3. Can Reese keep it going? Simply put, Reese is likely to continue her dominance. The sophomore sensation has scored no fewer than 12 points in a single game to start the season. The Baltimore native is averaging a formidable 18.5 points, 12 rebounds and 2.5 steals on 53% shooting from the floor. Injuries only heighten the need for Reese to score, but the self-proclaimed guard has a myriad of teammates on whom she can rely.

“I love our size and our length, so being able to utilize what is flowing, what combinations are the best combinations is really how I coach,” Frese said.