No. 16 Maryland women’s basketball is seven games above .500 and closes out 2022 in College Park with a Big Ten matchup against Minnesota. Both teams are 1-1 in conference play and look to extend their three-game win streaks.
Despite a commanding win over IPFW on Dec. 21, Maryland dropped one spot in the latest AP poll, while Minnesota remained unranked.
Streaming is available on B1G+ and tip off is set for 2 p.m on Dec. 30.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-5, 1-1 B1G)
Head coach Lindsey Whalen’s return to her alma mater in 2018 has produced two winning seasons since then. It’s still quite early in the season and certainly in the conference slate, but the Golden Gophers already have some thrilling victories under their belt.
Whalen’s group has yet to win a road game this year and coming into an XFINITY Center — where the Terps are 3-2 — will pose some challenges.
Players to watch
Mara Braun, freshman guard, six-foot, No. 10 — Braun has impressed many in her freshman campaign, showing off her scoring prowess. Her 18.1 points per game ranks fifth in the conference, one spot behind Maryland’s Diamond Miller. Expect her to be a focal point for the Golden Gophers’ offense in this game.
Katie Borowicz, redshirt freshman guard, five-foot-seven, No. 23 — Borowicz is a balanced guard and strong scorer, making 42.2% of her attempts from the field and 39.2% from 3-point range. Scoring just over 10 points per game, she’s a good complement to Braun in the offensive attack.
Amaya Battle, freshman guard, five-foot-11, No. 3 — Battle is an efficient guard with a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio, something that Maryland head coach Brenda Frese has preached to her team to improve on. Minnesota may be youthful, but it knows what it’s doing on the court, and Battle is a big part of that.
Youth. The majority of Minnesota’s players are freshmen. It does not have any true sophomores on the roster. This team is able to be molded into a one that can make a run in the Big Ten in future seasons with the foundation it has set, with Braun leading the offensive attack. It might not be enough to take down a Maryland team loaded with experience, but it will make for an exciting matchup.
Playing on the road. The Golden Gophers are winless on the road and have one win at a neutral site. One of those losses was to Virginia, 73-70. Minnesota had this game in its hands until the final minute of regulation when it committed a few mistakes.
Three things to watch
1. Minnesota has confidence against conference foes. Minnesota’s lone conference victory was in a double-overtime thriller against Penn State. Braun finished with 26 points on 53% shooting from the field. The game was an example of Minnesota’s resilience and poise to take a stronger opponent the full distance. If they can match that intensity Friday, they’ll have a chance to give Maryland a close game.
2. Maryland is improving on Frese’s demands. Frese has repeated her obsession with assist-to-turnover ratio and in Maryland’s last game against IPFW, it was a 2:1, which, to the veteran head coach, was a wonderful sight to see. The Terps made smarter decisions with their shot selection and executed smarter passes while stringing together a confidence-boosting win. Graduate point guard Elisa Pinzan leads the Terps in that stat with 2.6 assists per turnover, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten.
“I love the 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. [It’s] an area for us we’re really trying to be intentional [and] just trying to make the right play and the right read,” Frese said after the win over IPFW.
3. Scoring typically dominates. Matchups between Maryland and Minnesota have traditionally been high-scoring affairs. The Terps have hung at least 80 points on Minnesota in each year since 2019. That year, Maryland was held to 71 and escaped with a two-point win. With the offensive weapons Maryland has now with graduate guard Abby Meyers, senior forward Faith Masonius, Pinzan, Miller and Sellers, this Maryland group is capable of putting 90 or more points on Minnesota if they are left open.