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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Louisville preview: Terps face toughest test this season

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It’s a top-7 matchup.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Louisville vs Syracuse Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland women’s basketball team will exit November with a 6-0 record and the No. 5 ranking in the AP Poll. Things have mostly been easy for Brenda Frese’s team, save for a hard-fought game against Washington State.

The Terps currently have four double-digit scorers on the roster: seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones and freshmen Destiny Slocum and Kaila Charles. They’ll need almost all of them on Thursday, because the toughest test of the season awaits.

As part of the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Maryland will visit Louisville at 7 p.m. on WatchESPN. The Cardinals were ranked ahead of the Terps as recently as last week before losing 83-59 to South Carolina on Sunday. Louisville is a strong team with an impressive track record, and to top it all off, the coaches in this game have a pretty significant history.

No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (6-1)

2015-16 season: 26-8, 15-1 ACC, NCAA 2nd Round

Head coach: Jeff Walz. In his 10th season as Louisville’s coach after coming over from...yep, Maryland. Walz was on Brenda Frese’s staff in College Park from 2002-07, a run that included the 2006 national title; he also coached with Frese for one season at Minnesota. Now he’s one of the nation’s premier coaches, taking the Cardinals to the title game in 2013. Thursday will be the fourth time he’s faced Frese since taking over; all three matchups took place in the NCAA Tournament, with Maryland taking the last two. Expect this to be noted more than a couple times on the broadcast.

Players to know

Asia Durr, sophomore, guard, 5’10, No. 25. After being named to the all-ACC freshman team a season ago, Durr is averaging a team-high 18.7 points this year. She’s mainly a three-point threat, hoisting up eight per game and shooting a crisp 50 percent.

Mariya Moore, junior, forward, 6’0, No. 4. Moore can do it all: she’s averaging a 13-4-4 while shooting 87.5 percent from the foul line. She’s been a starter since her freshman year, and was an all-ACC selection and All-America honorable mention last season.

Myisha Hines-Allen, junior, forward, 6’2, No. 2. She was the Cardinals’ best player in 2016, averaging 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds and taking home an ACC Player of the Year honor from the Blue Ribbon Panel. Hines-Allen hasn’t exactly been superb this year—8.9 points, 8.6 boards—and is just 7-of-26 from the floor in Louisville’s last three games, but she can still do damage.

Briahanna Jackson, redshirt senior, guard, 5’6, No. 0. Jackson has come off the bench in all seven games this season, similar to what Brene Moseley did for the Terps last year. She’s still fourth on the team in minutes and averages 8.9 points and 2.1 steals per game. Jackson played two years at UCF before transferring to Louisville; she averaged over 16 points per game for the Knights.

Strength

Forcing turnovers. Louisville’s opponents are averaging 23.4 giveaways per game. The Cardinals lost the turnover battle against South Carolina (17-13), but should still make life tough for Slocum and Walker-Kimbrough.

Weakness

Rebounding. Although the Cardinals have a plus-2.1 rebounding margin this year, they were demolished on the glass by South Carolina, 46-29. Maryland lost the board battle to Washington State, but the Terps still have one more Brionna Jones than Louisville (who, in fairness, does have a Brianna Jones on the bench).

Prediction

Maryland wins, 85-76.