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Maryland women’s basketball at Penn State preview

The Terps look to bounce back after a heartbreaking loss at Michigan.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Ohio St. at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland women’s basketball suffered a huge defeat earlier this week, losing to Michigan in overtime, 79-77, after leading by six with over two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Despite the Terps shooting over 50% from the floor and over 40% from three, late-game mistakes dropped the team’s conference record to 4-4.

Now, looking for a bounce-back win, Maryland will travel to State College to take on a Penn State team that had success early this season.

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

Penn State Lady Lions (14-5, 5-3 Big Ten)

2022-23 record: 14-17, 4-14 Big Ten

Since she took over in 2019, head coach Carolyn Kieger has been conducting an immense rebuild, improving Penn State’s win total every year. But this year feels a little different, with the Lady Lions already winning as many games as they did all of last season.

Penn State has also been a different team at home this season, holding a record of 10-1 at the Bryce Jordan Center. This season could potentially end in a first NCAA Tournament appearance for Kieger in Happy Valley.

Players to know

Ashley Owusu, graduate guard, 6-foot, No. 0 — Having played for the Terps for three seasons, Owusu will face her former squad in a conference game. The former third-team All-American just came back from injury, and has averaged 19.3 points per game in her four games since.

Leilani Kapinus, redshirt junior guard, 5-foot-10, No. 5 — Don’t let her scoring numbers fool you — Kapinus is one of the best defenders in the conference. Making the All-Big Ten defensive team last season, she has led her team in both blocks and steals while averaging 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Shay Ciezki, sophomore guard, 5-foot-7, No. 4 — Ciezki has been one of the best shooters in the Big Ten. She’s averaging 14.4 points per game while shooting 40.3% from three, also averaging 2.8 assists per game.

Strength

Offensive efficiency. The reason Penn State has had success is its innate ability to shoot the basketball. The Lady Lions have the third-best scoring offense in the Big Ten, averaging 86.3 points per game this season. They are also great from behind the arc, with the second-best team three-point shooting percentage in Division I (40.5%).

Weakness

Rebounding. While rebounding has been a question for Maryland all season, it’s also been a problem for Penn State. The Lady Lions average 36.7 rebounds per game, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten.

Three things to watch

1. The Terps need to bounce back. The Terps are 1-5 in road games this season, concerning when considering their NCAA Tournament ambitions. But a win against a hot Penn State on the road could help spark some confidence.

2. McDaniel’s production. After a career-best streak of double-digit-point games, Terps guard Bri McDaniel came down to Earth against the Wolverines, scoring only five points. With Shyanne Sellers taking a dip in scoring of late, McDaniel will need to continue making strides in her development.

3. Closing out games. Maryland’s loss at Michigan was yet another instance of it losing after leading at halftime. Becoming a better second-half team won’t happen overnight, the Terps need to take lessons from their costly losses.