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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Niagara preview

The Terps look for their third straight win.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland women’s basketball is riding a two-game winning streak after a 2-1 showing at the Cancun Challenge. The Terps faced an initial setback against No. 22 Washington State, but bounced back with wins over Green Bay and UMass.

The Terps will look to expand their winning streak Wednesday when they play host to Niagara. The game will begin at 7 p.m. and stream on Big Ten Plus.

Niagara Purple Eagles (2-4, 0-0 MAAC)

2022-23 record: 18-13, 16-4 MAAC

Jada Pierce, now in her ninth season as head coach at Niagara, boasts over 25 years of collegiate coaching experience. Under her guidance last year, the Purple Eagles achieved a program-record 16 MAAC wins and secured their first WNIT bid.

The Purple Eagles have endured four losses this season. Against No. 7 LSU, Niagara shot 25% from three, while allowing the Tigers to soar at 60% from beyond the arc. In their match against No. 2 UCLA, they struggled in the paint, scoring a mere 10 points inside.

Players to know

Aaliyah Parker, junior guard, No. 5 — Parker has only played three games this season, yet remains a formidable presence on the court. During her sophomore year, she averaged 16.9 points per game and ranked second in the country in steals per game (3.7). Additionally, she achieved the program’s second-ever triple-double. This season, she leads the Purple Eagles with 14.7 points per game.

Chardonnay Hartley, sophomore guard, No. 0 — Hartley has emerged as Niagara’s most valuable player. Starting all six games, she ranks second on the team with 13.3 points per game. She also leads the team with 30 assists and 19 steals.

Amelia Strong, sophomore forward, No. 10 — After predominantly serving as a bench player in her freshman year, Strong has been a key contributor this season, starting in all six games. She leads the team in total rebounds (26) and blocks (7).

Strength

Turnovers. Niagara has forced its opponents to commit an average of 22.2 turnovers per game this season. Additionally, the team averages 11.8 steals per game.

Weakness

Shooting. The Purple Eagles have posted shooting percentages of 36.6 percent from the field and 33.6 percent from beyond the arc. Despite these figures, Niagara maintains a steadfast commitment to shooting, having attempted 32 more 3-pointers than its opponents this season.

Three things to watch

1. Riley Nelson’s growth. The Terps’ five-star recruit experienced a surge in playing time during the Cancun Challenge, logging 77 total minutes in three games. Boasting a smooth skill set and length capable of guarding various positions, she embodies the versatile style of play coveted by head coach Brenda Frese.

2. What will Faith Masonius’s role be? Across her three games as a reserve, Faith Masonius accumulated just eight points and nine rebounds, and her returning to a starting role is questionable.

3. Can the Terps keep the winning streak alive? Maryland has the chance to continue its winning streak with several upcoming nonconference games.