Maryland women’s basketball will look to bounce back after suffering a 114-76 defeat Sunday to South Carolina, now ranked No. 1 in the nation. The 114 points allowed marked the most ever against a Brenda Frese-led Terps team.
The first half was a closely contested battle, but the dynamic shifted dramatically in the second half when South Carolina’s superior depth and size exerted dominance over a fatigued Maryland squad.
But the Terps won’t have time to rest on their laurels. Up next for them: No. 8 UConn.
Thursday’s game will start at 6:30 p.m. and be televised on Fox Sports 1.
UConn Huskies (1-1, 0-0 Big East)
2022-23 record: 31-6, 18-2 Big East
Geno Auriemma is one of the most storied college basketball coaches of all time. In 38 season with the Huskies, he has 11 NCAA championships, 22 Final Four appearances and six undefeated seasons. The nine-time AP National Coach of the Year looks this season to bring the program its first national championship since 2016.
After an injury-riddled year, the Huskies are back to full strength and return prospective top-three WNBA draft pick Paige Bueckers, who missed the entirety of last season.
Despite the high hopes, UConn is coming off an early-season upset loss last week to now-No. 14 NC State, 92-81.
Players to know
Paige Bueckers, redshirt junior guard, 6-foot, No. 5 — Coming off a torn ACL, Bueckers is one of the best players in the country and was recognized as an AP preseason All-American. Her past honors include being named the 2021 AP Player of the Year and to the all-tournament team during the Huskies’ run to the 2022 Final Four.
In the Huskies’ loss to NC State, Bueckers posted 27 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Aaliyah Edwards, senior forward, 6-foot-3, No. 3 — Edwards has the opportunity to cement herself as a top-five WNBA draft pick this season. She boasts power and athleticism in the post, with great touch around the rim.
She was honored as an third-team AP All-American last season and has averaged 22 points and 7.5 rebounds per game so far this year. Against the Terps last season, she scored a game-high 25 points.
Nika Muhl, senior guard, 5-foot-10, No. 10 — Muhl is one of the best playmakers in UConn’s history. She holds the program record for most assists in a single season (284) and the single-game assist record (15). She was also named the 2023 Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Through two games this year, she’s averaging seven points and 5.5 assists.
Top-flight talent. The aforementioned players all have a chance to be first-round draft picks. While the Huskies’ depth is unproven, there’s no doubt that they have leadership and star power. Bueckers, Edwards and Muhl have combined to average 46.5 points per game this season.
Rebounding. In similar fashion to the Terps, UConn lacks size, especially on the perimeter. In its loss to NC State, it was out-rebounded, 41-29.
Three things to watch
1. How will the Terps contain Bueckers? Given Bueckers’ on-ball skill and vision, it’ll be interesting to see if the Terps decide to double-team her. Another option would be to have Shyanne Sellers do so, who has had past success guarding opponents’ top guards.
2. Will the bench up its production? Bri McDaniel emerged as the sole source of energy off Maryland’s bench during the loss to South Carolina. Freshmen Riley Nelson and Emily Fisher may also hold the potential to unlock greater depth and versatility, and Allie Kubek’s gradual return to play could prove to be a valuable payoff.
3. Can the Terps improve their paint production? The Terps heavily relied on three-pointers against the Gamecocks, making 10 of their 22 attempts. However, they only scored 30 points in the paint, compared to South Carolina’s 56. To contend with the nation’s top teams, Maryland must explore additional strategies for attacking around the rim.