The Maryland women’s basketball team has started Big Ten play 3-0, with its last two wins coming by 44 and 31 points. On Wednesday, the Terps host Penn State looking to continue the trend.
Mayland has looked great in conference play. The Terps’ senior combo of Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones has been predictably dominant, freshmen Destiny Slocum and Kaila Charles seem to be coming into their own, and guards Kristen Confroy and Ieshia Small were impressive in Saturday’s win against Northwestern.
Penn State looked promising at the start of the season, posting a 10-2 non-conference record that included victories over Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Boston College. But the Nittany Lions have struggled in Big Ten play, with a win over Iowa sandwiched between losses to Indiana, Rutgers and Purdue.
The difference? Shooting. Penn State’s shooting line was .456/.379/.701 outside the conference, but it’s plummeted to .374/.292/.623 in the last four contests. It’s unclear if that’s just a large-scale slump or a sign that the team is in for a rough couple of months.
The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. ET Wednesday in College Park. It’ll be available on BTN Plus.
Penn State Nittany Lions (11-5, 1-3 Big Ten)
2015-16 record: 12-19, 6-12
Head coach: Coquese Washington is in her 10th year at the helm and has a 171-129 career record. She was the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2013-14, when the team won 24 games.
Players to know
Teniya Page, sophomore, guard, 5’7, No. 11. Averages a team-high 18.7 points to go with 3.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds. Page shoots 45.8 percent from three and nearly 80 percent at the line. Maryland will see plenty of other high-scoring guards in conference play, so how the Terps handle Page could say something about future games.
Amari Carter, redshirt freshman, guard, 5’8, No. 2. The St. John’s product suffered an injury in the first game of last season, but she’s come back strong. Carter has started all 16 games this season and made a big impact in conference play, where she’s second on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg) and rebounding (4.5 rpg) and first in assists (3.75 apg).
Lindsey Spann, senior, guard, 5’6, No. 12. Penn State’s second-leading scorer overall (11.3 ppg), although her production has dipped as of late. Nearly half of Spann’s shots are from beyond the arc, where she shoots 33.3 percent. The senior is also the team’s best foul shooter at 82.8 percent.
Depth. Penn State regularly goes 10 deep, and seven players are averaging at least 18 minutes in conference play. The Lions’ shooting and scoring distributions are very balanced, which can make them a bit tougher to prepare for (although Page is certainly the top priority for any opposing coach).
Rim protection. The Lions don’t block a lot of shots, even though they do have some size (six rotation players stand at least 6’2). That won’t serve them well against the Terps, who have Brionna Jones and a bevy of other players that can score inside.
Maryland wins, 84-61.