No. 14 Maryland women’s basketball is coming off its first ranked victory of the season in a 73-68 defeat of then-No. 17 Baylor at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.
The Terps are heading to the Sunshine State this weekend for the Fort Myers Tip-Off at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida. Maryland will tip off with DePaul on Friday at 11 a.m. and Towson on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The holiday tournament will conclude for the Terps on Nov. 27 versus Pittsburgh at 11:30 a.m.
Maryland head coach Brenda Frese’s squad with nine newcomers is playing well while still building on-court chemistry. This weekend will allow this team to gain experience and compete against solid opponents.
DePaul Blue Demons (2-2, 0-0 Big East)
One may not think of DePaul when talking about the powerhouses of the Big East conference, but it has proven year after year to be a solid, competitive team that plays meaningful games in March.
The Blue Demons are coming off a very good season, finishing fourth in the conference and receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
This year, though, despite bringing back seven players and adding two coveted transfers, they’ve struggled out of the gate.
Suffering losses to Northern Illinois and Cleveland State, DePaul will look to get rolling in this in-season tournament after a big win against Miami this past Sunday.
Players to watch
Aneesah Morrow, sophomore forward, six-foot-one, No. 24 — Morrow is one of the best players in the nation. Last season, she was named a Second Team All-American, the top freshman in the country by ESPN, a Wooden Award finalist and was the Big East Freshman of the Week a record 13 times. In her first year, she set almost every accolade for a DePaul player in addition to leading the country in rebounds. Through four games this season, she is averaging over 31 points and 10 rebounds. Maryland may not be able to stop her, but it will have to limit her impact.
Darrione Rogers, junior guard, five-foot-11, No. 21 — While Morrow is the Blue Demons’ top-scoring option, Rogers is the second choice. She’s averaging almost 22 points this season and loves to pull up from distance. The three-year starter has taken 33 threes this season, and she’ll be taking a lot more to try and keep up with the Terps.
Keke Rimmer, senior guard, five-foot-10, No. 1 — Rimmer knows her role with the Blue Demons — provide energy on both sides on the floor and off the bench. She plays right around 20 minutes a game and has two blocks, 10 steals and 27 rebounds on the young season. She plays a similar role to Maryland’s Bri McDaniel and can definitely give DePaul a spark in Friday’s matchup.
Scoring. DePaul regularly puts up 90 to 100 points. It did that in almost half its games last season en route to being the top scoring offense in the nation and it hasn’t slowed down this season, averaging 89 points through the first four games of the season — 11th in the country. Led by Morrow, who is scoring at will right now, the Terps will have their hands full Friday.
Defense. While their offense is spectacular, the Blue Demons’ defense is non-existent. They’ve allowed 80 points in each of their last three games. That was a similar theme last year, with the offense needing to eclipse the 80-point mark in many Big East victories. Their lineup is quite small, with Morrow being their tallest player at six-foot-one. It would not be surprising to see Maryland score close to triple digits against them.
Towson Tigers (3-0, 0-0 CAA)
Laura Harper is in her first season as head coach of the Tigers. Harper was a sophomore on the 2006 national championship team at Maryland and has credited Frese as one of her coaching inspirations.
Towson heads to Fort Myers with an undefeated record early in the season, recording wins over Longwood, St. Francis (Pa.) and Maryland-Eastern Shore. This weekend should provide a clearer picture of what the Tigers are capable of in their first year under new leadership.
Players to watch
Kylie Lucas-Kornegay, redshirt junior guard, five-foot-10, No. 15 — A scoring machine for the Tigers, Lucas-Kornegay leads Towson in scoring, averaging 20.7 points per game while hitting 51.2% of her shots from the field. Expect her to facilitate Towson’s offense against Maryland.
Anissa Rivera, senior guard/forward, six-foot-one, No. 35 — Rivera is Towson’s only other double-digit average scorer through three games, joining Lucas-Kornegay. Since transferring from North Carolina Central prior to last season, she has been a key piece for the Tigers. She led the team in rebounds per game last season and averaged 10.3 points per game.
Quinzia Fulmore, sophomore forward, six-foot-three, No. 34 — Fulmore is seeing the court in a meaningful capacity for the first time this season and has impressed. She is second on the team with seven rebounds per game and is averaging almost nine points per game as well. With the Terps’ lack of size, she could be dangerous.
Sharing the ball. Towson shares the scoring load around. The Tigers are only three games into their season, but they have proven that they know how to share the ball and get contributions from everyone on the roster. Anybody from their starters to their last bench players usually contributes a bucket.
3-point shooting. Shooting 27% from long range is not going to pass against a team like Maryland, which will beat teams from deep with sharpshooters like Diamond Miller and senior guard Abby Meyers. Maryland will look to break open the scoring early, and if teams want to contend with the Terps, they will need to hit 3-pointers.
Pittsburgh Panthers (4-0, 0-0 ACC)
Pittsburgh is led by head coach Lance White, who’s in his fifth season guiding the women’s basketball program. The 2022-23 team is experienced, as they have 10 upperclassmen. Their roster has a decent amount of size, as five players are standing at six feet or taller. White’s club has started strong and will look to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
The Panthers could make an early statement with a sweep in this weekend’s inter-conference tournament. Maryland will see a familiar face on the opposite sidelines, as Pittsburgh graduate guard Channise Lewis played three seasons for the Terps. Lewis missed two full seasons with knee injuries and will to flash the talent that made her a promising recruit out of Miami.
Players to watch
Liatu King, junior forward, six-foot, No. 2 — The Washington, D.C. native leads Pittsburgh in points (12.8) and rebounds (10.8) per game. In the team’s 61-45 victory over Duquesne on Nov. 19, King recorded a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. The athletic forward can draw contact, proven by her team-leading 14 free throw attempts. Maryland must be aware of King’s whereabouts on the glass, as she makes a conscientious effort to crash the boards.
Maliyah Johnson, sophomore forward, six-foot, No. 21 — Johnson is third on the team with 10 points scored per game. She’s effective from behind the arc, as she is shooting an impressive 47.1% from three-point range. Once Johnson sets her feet, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the shot will go in. Pittsburgh constantly looks for Johnson, as she is always moving without the basketball for a long-range attempt. The Terps would be wise to keep someone attached to Johnson, as she only needs a small crease to let a shot fly.
Dayshanette Harris, senior guard, five-foot-seven, No. 1 — The five-foot-seven floor general has an ultra-quick first step that allows her to get into the paint at will. Harris recorded 17 points and three steals in Pittsburgh’s convincing 93-54 victory over Bryant on Nov. 16. The senior leader has started every game this season and will look to build on the Panthers’ strong start to the season.
3-pointers. Pittsburgh is shooting the lights out from distance this season, as it is third in the ACC with a 37% three-point percentage. The Panthers have five players on their roster who have made at least two 3-pointers this season. With a respected presence from deep, Pittsburgh can effectively shoot its way back into any game.
Free throws. The Panthers are 10th in the ACC with a 67.2% mark from the charity stripe. In their 63-45 victory over George Mason, they went just 14-23 from the free throw line. With the games starting to increase in importance, Pittsburgh will look to make defenses pay by converting a higher number of free throws.
Things to watch
1. 3-point defense. Against Baylor, Maryland allowed the lowest 3-point percentage from an opponent all season and it will be a point of emphasis for the Terps as they match up against the Tigers, who have made nine 3-pointers this season. Making them hurl shots from long range and miss will help Maryland keep control of the lead. If the Terps can capitalize on defending the perimeter against DePaul and Pitt, there is potential for them to end the Thanksgiving weekend with three more wins.
2. How have the Terps fared in their recent tournaments? Maryland is always featured in various in-season tournaments but has had an up and down ride in them over the past couple seasons. It is 4-3 in these matchups the last three years, including two losses to top 10 opponents in NC State and Stanford last season. Before that, in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 tournaments, the Terps’ only loss came against a No. 23 ranked Missouri State team in 2020.
3. Who else can contribute to Maryland’s offensive attack other than star Diamond Miller?Maryland has the luxury of having WNBA draft prospect Diamond Miller causing havoc for opposing defenses. The New Jersey native is fourth in the Big Ten with 21 points per game. But, for Maryland to make a deep run this season, the contributions of others will be pivotal to its success. Abby Meyers is enjoying a great season, averaging 15.6 points per game in her first season for the Terps. Sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers is a two-way player, with clever drives to the basket along with great anticipation to collect steals. With nine newcomers on the roster, Maryland’s freshman class will have to learn on the fly as they seek early season victories. The performance of others will be instrumental in this tournament and for the duration of the season.