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Maryland women’s basketball vs. UMBC preview: Terps return home after two weeks away

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The No. 5 Terps start a three-game homestand against an in-state mid-major.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan State vs Maryland Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

After holding on to beat Louisville on the road Thursday, Maryland women’s basketball is 7-0 this season. Five mid-majors await the No. 5 Terps before the signature matchup against UConn on Dec. 29 starting with UMBC on Sunday.

Maryland’s early season has been characterized by the steady dominance of seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones, as well as the rapid emergence of freshmen Destiny Slocum and Kaila Charles. It was Charles’ layup that gave the Terps the lead late in Thursday’s game, and Slocum’s three-point play that served as the exclamation point.

The Terps will have a three-game homestand this week, with games Sunday against UMBC, Tuesday against Towson and Thursday against Saint Peter’s.

UMBC already has a loss this year to Maryland Eastern Shore, who the Terps routed by 45 points at home. The Retrievers are on a four-game losing streak, with each loss coming by double figures. Sunday’s contest tips off at 2 p.m. ET and will be available on BTN.

UMBC Retrievers (2-4)

2015-16 record: 18-14, 8-8 America East

Head coach: Phil Stern has been at UMBC for 15 years. He was named the America East Coach of the Year in 2011 and led the Retrievers to the conference title and the NCAA Tournament in 2007. He previously coached for five seasons at USC Aiken.

Players to know

Taylor McCarley, senior, guard, 5’10, No. 4. A four-year that’s averaged at least 9.5 points per game every season, highlighted by 15.0 last season. McCarley also added over five assists and four rebounds as a junior, but after dropping 34 against Columbia in the season opener, she’s struggled with injuries and missed two of the last three games. If she’s ready to go, she’ll be someone to watch.

Lakiah Sims, junior, forward, 6’1, No. 45. Sims is averaging 12.3 points and a team-high 6.3 boards this year. She played two years of junior college ball in Florida before transferring to Division I this offseason.

Pandora Wilson, redshirt senior, forward, 6’1, No. 13. In her second year as a starter and her third year with the Retrievers, Wilson is averaging 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. She’s a local product who played with McCaley at Holy Cross, where Wilson was a two-time All-Met selection.

Strength

Foul shooting. The Retrievers are shooting 73.4 percent from the line on just over 13 attempts per game. The three players mentioned above take the majority of them, and Sims is the best at 86.4 percent.

Weakness

Ball control. UMBC’s assist-to-turnover ratio is 0.8, which won’t get the job done against an aggressive defense like Maryland’s. About half of the Retrievers’ 14.8 turnovers per game are live-ball giveaways, which are much easier to score off of.

Prediction

Maryland wins, 94-55