Fresh off two wins in Miami, Maryland women’s basketball is heading to Charlottesville to take on Virginia in this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Terps defeated Kennesaw State and Miami in the Miami Thanskgiving Tournament to improve to 5-2 this season. Ieshia Small was named tournament MVP after posting a career high 23 points and 10 rebounds against the Hurricanes, and Kaila Charles was also named to the all-tournament team. Maryland remains No. 15 in the AP Poll after a 3-0 week.
Virginia has struggled so far during a 3-4 start, and lost at home to Duquesne, 74-63, on Sunday. The Cavaliers have lost both games they’ve played against Power-5 opponents, dropping games to No. 6 Mississippi State and Georgia.
Virginia leads the all-time series 44-37, and beat Maryland 86-72 when they last played on Jan. 23, 2014. However, the Terps are 9-1 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game will be streamed on the ACC Network through WatchESPN.
Virginia Cavaliers (3-4)
2016-17 record: 20-13, 7-9 ACC
Head coach Joanne Boyle is 113-89 in sevens seasons at Virginia. She’s led the Cavaliers to four postseason appearances, but no NCAA Tournament berths. Before coming to Virginia, she was the head coach at Cal for six years and Richmond for three years. She’s 317-182 in 16 years as a head coach.
Players to know
Dominique Toussaint, sophomore, guard, 5’9, No. 4. Toussaint leads Virginia with 13 points and 3.7 assists per game. Last year, as a freshman, she averaged 9.5 points per game and was named to the ACC All-Freshman team. She was ESPNw’s No. 48 recruit in the Class of 2016.
Jocelyn Willoughby, sophomore, guard, 6’0, No. 13. Willoughby averages 12.5 points and five rebounds per game. Like, Toussaint, she was also named to the ACC All-Freshman Team after averaging 9.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. She was one spot higher ahead of Toussaint in ESPNw’s Class of 2016 player rankings at No. 47.
Aliyah Huland El, senior, guard, 6’1, No. 23. Huland El averages 10.1 points per game while starting and coming off the bench. She’s the team’s best three-point threat, shooting 46.2 percent from behind the arc after shooting 31 percent last year.
Felicia Aiyeotan, sophomore, center, 6’9, No. 30. Though she plays just 19.4 minutes per game, Aiyeotan can be disruptive in both ends on the floor. She averages 5.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, and last year she ranked third in the ACC with 54 blocked shots. She may be the tallest player Maryland has ever faced, and could be useful against its undersized frontcourt.
Shot-blocking. Virginia swats 4.4 shots per game, which is 71st in the NCAA. The Terps don’t have a dominant post scorer, so they could see a lot of shots end up in the stands on Wednesday night.
Scoring. Virginia averages just 63.1 points per game, which is 231st in the NCAA, and the team also ranks in the bottom half of the country in field goal percentage. Maryland can score quickly and in bunches, so expect the Terps to try to push the tempo and put the game away early.
Three things to watch
1. Can Maryland be more consistent? Maryland was the better team on Sunday, but couldn’t pull away until late. Frese has emphasized playing well for a full 40 minutes this year, and Wednesday is another chance to show the team can.
2. Which style of play wins out? Maryland likes to run and beat teams in transition, while Virginia is more inclined to slow the ball down and play tough defense. If Virginia wants to pull off the upset, it has to control the tempo. If it doesn’t, it will be hard to catch up.
3. How will Channise Lewis and Sarah Myers’ minutes be distributed? The two had split time at point guard until Sunday. Lewis played nearly the whole game, with Myers checking in for less than a minute in the second quarter. Part of that could do with Miami’s press, which can be tough to break for someone who is still transitioning to point guard. Depending on how much the Cavaliers pressure the ball, the minutes disparity could be big again Wednesday night.
Maryland wins, 87-71.