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Maryland women’s basketball vs. George Mason preview

The Terps look for their fourth straight win.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Returning home after a three-game tournament in Cancún, Mexico last weekend, Maryland women’s basketball lit up the scoreboard against Niagara in a 114-44 win, extending its winning streak to three games and staying unbeaten at home.

This weekend, the Terps will look to keep both of these streaks alive as they take on George Mason at XFINITY Center on Sunday.

The game will begin at 1 p.m. and stream on Big Ten Plus.

George Mason Patriots (7-0, 0-0 Atlantic 10)

2022 record: (16-15, 8-8 Atlantic 10)

In head coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis’ first few seasons with the program, George Mason has shown steady bouts of improvement, finishing with a winning record last season.

But this season, her team has taken a massive leap to start its nonconference schedule, going undefeated in the first seven games. If the Patriots can continue to improve, they could make some noise in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Players to know

Sonia Smith, senior guard, 5-foot-7, No. 4 — While the Patriots have three scorers averaging double-digits, Smith leads the team 13.3 points per game. This is Smith’s second straight year as George Mason’s leading scorer. The former transfer from Scared Heart also leads the team in assists, averaging 3.5 per game.

Kennedy Harris, freshman guard, 5-foot-6, No. 3 — In the first games of her collegiate career, Harris already looks like an elite shooter at the college level. She leads the team in 3-pointers made (10), is shooting 43.5% from three and leads the team in free throw percentage for players with at least 10 attempts (93.8%).

Nekhu Mitchell, sophomore forward, 6-foot, No. 11 — While her scoring numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, Mitchell contributes in other ways. Not only is she the team’s leading rebounder (6.0 per game), Mitchell also averages a team-high 1.9 steals per game.

Strength

Negative turnover margin. The Patriots are undefeated partially because they keep winning the turnover battle. The team has an average turnover margin of 6.4 this season, which is the best in the Atlantic 10.

Weakness

Free throw consistency. Despite all its success, George Mason has not performed at the charity stripe consistently, shooting a combined 67.8% on free throws.

Three things to watch

1. How will injuries affect Maryland’s rotation? Even though the Niagara game was a blow out, forward Emma Chardon exited the game due to injury, which was later confirmed to be a torn ACL, and guard Lavender Briggs didn’t play. With two key players likely out, it will be interesting to see who will see more playing time.

2. Will Bri McDaniel make another statement? Briggs’ injury gave guard Bri McDaniel the chance to start her first ever collegiate game Wednesday. She finished with 18 points and five steals, and will likely be in the starting lineup again this weekend.

3. Can the Terps remain unbeaten at home? Maryland has begun the season undefeated at home, and will look to continue this streak through nonconference play.