No. 11 Maryland women’s basketball wraps up its two-game road trip with a Big Ten clash with Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Sunday matinee is set to tip at 2 p.m. and can be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
The Terps (15-4) are coming off a comfortable 77-64 victory over Wisconsin on Jan. 19. Sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers led all scorers with a career-high 21 points along with seven rebounds and three steals.
Nebraska (12-7) recently defeated Purdue, 71-64, after overcoming an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Sophomore forward Alexis Markowski logged a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Cornhuskers moved their record in conference play to .500.
The Terps own a 15-1 all-time series lead over Nebraska while registering a flawless 5-0 record at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Maryland is seeking to avenge a Dec. 4 loss to the Cornhuskers, which was their first blemish in Big Ten play this season.
With ranked matchups on the horizon, Maryland will be seeking its eighth victory away from XFINITY Center in a highly anticipated Sunday showdown.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-7, 4-4 Big Ten)
Nebraska is led by head coach Amy Williams, who’s in her seventh season overseeing the women’s basketball program. Williams has amassed a 96-84 record during her tenure.
Last season, she led the Cornhuskers to a respectable 24-9 record and an appearance in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
Williams rejuvenated the basketball program of her alma mater in only her second season. During the 2017-18 season, Nebraska went 21-11 while leading the nation with an impressive 14-game turnaround from a 7-22 record in their previous season. Her resurgent team earned her Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.
The Cornhuskers have split their last eight games, with their only ranked victory coming in their early meeting with Maryland. Williams’ roster is talented and has shown the ability to compete with the Big Ten’s elite.
Nebraska will look to add a sweep of Maryland to its resume for the upcoming NCAA Tournament in March.
Players to know
Jaz Shelley, junior guard, 5-foot-9, No. 1 — Shelley leads Nebraska with 13.1 points and 6.4 assists per contest. The junior guard scorched Maryland on Dec. 4 to the tune of 29 points and six 3-pointers in 40 minutes played. The Australia native also contributed five assists, three steals and one block in Nebraska’s early-season upset victory. Shelley is a shifty guard with the craftiness to identify areas on the court for her jump shot or to get to the rim to stress opponents’ interior defense. For Maryland to secure a victory, finding a way to neutralize Shelley must be at the forefront of its gameplan.
Alexis Markowski, sophomore forward, 6-foot-3, No. 40 — The 2022 Big Ten Freshman of the Year has played well in her sophomore campaign for the red and white. In Nebraska’s 71-64 victory over Purdue on Jan. 18, Markowski recorded her eighth double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Markowski also recorded a monster stat line of 24 points and 18 rebounds in a November victory over Tarleton. The 6-foot-3 forward has a clear size advantage over the Terps and will look to build on her recent success. Maryland’s versatile senior forward Faith Masonius will look to box Markowski out to limit her effectiveness on the glass.
Isabelle Bourne, junior forward, 6-foot-2, No. 34 — The forward ranks third on the team with 10.9 points per game. Bourne’s average of 6.7 rebounds per game ranks second on the team, showcasing her propensity to crash the glass. In Nebraska’s victory over Maryland in December, she recorded 18 points and six rebounds, going four-for-five from 3-point range. Maryland would be wise to run Bourne off the 3-point line, as she only needs a hint of separation to let her shot fly.
Rebounding. Nebraska is fourth in the Big Ten with 39.8 rebounds per game. The Cornhuskers make a conscientious effort to rebound the basketball and occasionally send all five to the glass. Alexis Markowski and Isabelle Bourne rank within the top 10 in rebounding in the conference; Markowski is second in the Big Ten with 9.3 rebounds per contest and consistently battles for the ball. Bourne has recorded at least five rebounds in 12 contests and will find ways to position herself for rebounds on both ends of the floor.
Shooting. Through 19 games this season, the Cornhuskers are 12th in the conference with a 41.4% shooting percentage from the field. In seven games this season, Nebraska has failed to shoot over 40%. On Jan. 14, the Cornhuskers lost 76-67 to No. 3 Ohio State after shooting a concerning 36.8% from the field. Nebraska has struggled to make shots during multiple stretches during the season and will look to fix this area for its remainder. If Nebraska can shore up this area, it can position itself for crucial victories in the vaunted Big Ten.
Three things to watch
1. Can the Terps avenge their December loss? Maryland welcomed Nebraska to the XFINITY Center and was handed its first loss in Big Ten play on Dec. 4. The Terps were thoroughly outplayed, as they recorded a worrisome 40% shooting percentage from the field and an abysmal 25% 3-point percentage. Since their previous matchup, Maryland has won eight of their last nine games with notable victories over then-No. 6 UConn and Michigan State.
2. Will Abby Meyers end her recent struggles? Early in the season, Maryland senior guard Abby Meyers was arguably the most consistent player on the team. Meyers scored in double figures in the Terps’ first eight games, highlighted by a 23-point performance versus Pittsburgh in December. In Maryland’s past four games, Meyers has mustered a 33% (15-45) clip from the field and a 6-for-18 showing from behind the arc. Maryland will need Meyers to get it going offensively, as her scoring ability can make the Terps a nightmare to defend.
3. How can Maryland defend the 3-point line on the road? In Maryland’s early-season meeting with Nebraska, the Cornhuskers recorded a 48% (12-for-25) shooting percentage from three. Nebraska junior guard Jaz Shelley drained six 3-pointers, and forward Isabelle Bourne made four of her own. Maryland struggled mightily to run Nebraska off the 3-point line and should be more focused on limiting its success from deep. It is hard to win in the Big Ten, but it becomes even more difficult to win when teams are draining their 3-point attempts. It will be worth monitoring how Maryland defends Nebraska’s shooters after getting lit up in the first contest. The Terps’ closeouts on long-range attempts should play a role in Sunday’s matchup versus Nebraska.