No. 20 Maryland women’s basketball will face No. 6 UConn on Sunday in a long-awaited ranked showdown at the XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland.
The Terps (8-3) are fresh off a thrilling 77-74 road victory over Purdue on Dec. 8 following a game-winning 3-pointer by sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers. Senior guard Abby Meyers shined off the bench, highlighted by her 19 points and three 3-pointers made.
UConn recently escaped with a nail-biting 69-64 home victory over Princeton. Junior forward Aubrey Griffin dominated with 29 points and 10 rebounds. The Huskies shot 50% from behind the arc and rode a brilliant performance by Griffin for their seventh victory of the season.
Maryland and UConn are two premier college basketball programs with a rich history of excellence. UConn is a perfect 7-0 all-time versus Maryland, winning their last meeting 97-72 on Nov. 19, 2017, at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut.
The Terps are striving for their third ranked victory, while UConn will look for its eighth victory in nine games. Sunday’s game will tip at 3 p.m. on ABC.
No. 6 UConn Huskies (7-1, 1-0 Big East)
2021-22 record: 30-6 (16-1 Big East)
UConn is led by legendary head coach Geno Auriemma, who is in his 38th season guiding the program. The soft-spoken coach completely transformed a UConn program that had one winning season before his arrival.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee has an impressive 1,156-151 record during his storied career leading the Huskies. Auriemma embodies success on the hardwood, winning 11 national championships and appearing in the Final Four 22 times.
Last season, Auriemma and the Huskies faced South Carolina in the national championship game at the Target Center in Minneapolis. South Carolina defeated UConn, 64-49, in an entertaining game.
Despite missing their best player in Paige Bueckers (torn ACL), UConn remains a contender to make a deep run in March.
Players to know
Aubrey Griffin, junior forward, six-foot-one, No. 44 — After missing last season due to a reported discectomy, Griffin has hit the ground running in her junior campaign. She has scored in double digits in six out of nine games this season, including a 29-point, 10-rebound performance versus Princeton on Dec. 8. She’s averaging 13.3 points per game, doubling her scoring total from the previous two seasons. With star Azzi Fudd out for the foreseeable future after suffering a right knee injury versus Notre Dame, Griffin’s scoring and rebounding are key pieces of UConn’s attack.
Lou Lopez Sénéchal, graduate forward, six-foot-one, No. 11 — The Fairfield transfer is second on the team with 17.5 points per game. Lopez Sénéchal recorded 21 points and three 3-pointers in 40 minutes of UConn’s loss to then-No. 7 Notre Dame. The graduate forward plays at a steady pace and has shown the ability to stretch the floor with a 53.2% from deep. In UConn’s narrow 69-64 victory over Purdue, she registered 18 points and 6 rebounds. The six-foot-one forward is a three-level scorer whose crafty moves allow her to get into the paint with relative ease. It will be paramount for Maryland to limit her impact on the game to pull off the upset.
Aaliyah Edwards, junior forward, six-foot-three, No. 3 — Edwards is a model of consistency for UConn, scoring 14 or more points in six of nine games this season. In the Huskies’ 86-79 victory over No. 16 Iowa on Nov. 27, the 2021 Big East Sixth Woman of the Year recorded 20 points and 13 rebounds for a marquee victory. The Ontario native averages 14.8 points per game while ranking second on the team with 9.9 rebounds per contest. Despite missing a few key players, UConn will be a tough outing for the undersized Terps.
Scoring. UConn leads the Big East with 82.9 points per game. The Huskies have five players averaging at least 10 points per game this season. They have scored 80 points or more in five of their victories this season. Opponents’ hands are full trying to thwart UConn’s offensive firepower, as it is shooting 52.3% from the field. Not to mention, the Huskies are shooting the lights out from behind the arc, evidenced by their 43.5% clip from distance. Opposing teams are forced to defend the length of the floor in an attempt to limit their versatile attack.
Defense. There aren’t too many areas of concern for the No. 6 Huskies. However, the elite program is 10th in the Big East with 63 points relinquished per contest. In their lone defeat to Notre Dame, the Huskies allowed the Fighting Irish to shoot 56% from the field and an impressive 46.2% from distance. The Terps offense will need to be electric to take advantage of UConn’s deficiencies.
Three things to watch
1. Can the Terps avoid another letdown following an emotional victory? The Terps defeated Notre Dame, 74-72, in thrilling fashion after star senior guard Diamond Miller’s one-legged jump shot sent shockwaves around the country. After an emotional triumph, Maryland returned home for the Big Ten opener versus Nebraska on Dec. 4. The latter thoroughly outplayed Maryland and pulled off the 90-67 upset.
Fast forward to now and the opportunity is there for the same predicament. Maryland sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers spaced the floor well and splashed a triple to lift the Terps to an emotional victory over Purdue. Maryland will hope to rewrite history and pull off the home upset over UConn.
2. Will Maryland’s defense contain an explosive UConn offensive attack? Maryland prides itself on competing against the best, and its schedule is indicative of that. UConn possesses one of the best offenses in the country despite playing without arguably its two best players: Fudd and Bueckers.
Despite missing Bueckers for the entire calendar year, UConn has five players averaging 10 or more points per game. The Huskies have depth and size that figures to play a role in Sunday’s tilt with the Terps. Auriemma is notorious for creating motion offenses built on ball movement and setting strong screens.
3. UConn and Maryland are two premier teams. Who wins the first game of their long awaited series? On June 7, the Terps announced a home-and-home series with reigning champion South Carolina and runner-up UConn. Maryland and UConn were scheduled to meet during the 2020-21 season, but that meeting was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Maryland will look to secure the first victory of the series before it shifts to Storrs, Connecticut, next season.