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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Penn State preview

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The Terps will be looking to extend their win streak to 11 heading into 2018.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Maryland at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Before the calendar turns to 2018, Maryland women’s basketball has another chance to pick up a win Sunday at Penn State.

The Terps started off Big Ten play with a bang, rolling past Illinois, 100-65. Kaila Charles had a complete offensive performance, finishing with 24 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six assists. Blair Watson continued her breakout season, adding 22 points and a career-high eight rebounds.

It was also a record-setting day for Kristen Confroy, who hit three three-pointers to move to third all-time in Maryland history for career three’s. She’s now at 174, and needs 13 more to pass Shatori Walker-Kimbrough for second.

The Nittany Lions had a rough start to Big Ten play, falling at No. 21 Michigan, 89-69. They scored just 23 points in the first half and had no answer for the Wolverines’ Katelynn Flaherty, who hit 10 three-pointers on her way to 33 points.

The Terps needed all of Brionna Jones’s record-tying 42 points to beat Penn State 87-81 last year, as sloppy play allowed the Nittany Lions to cut a 16-point lead to five late in the fourth quarter. Maryland has won all four matchups against Penn State since joining the Big Ten.

Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on BTN.

Penn State Nittany Lions (9-5, 0-1)

2016-17 record: 21-11, 9-7

Head coach Coquese Washington is 190-140 in 11 seasons in State College. She led the Nittany Lions to four straight NCAA tournaments from 2011-14, with Sweet Sixteen appearances coming in 2012 and 2014. Penn State regressed to 6-24 in 2014-15, but has increased its win total each of the past two seasons. Prior to accepting the job at Penn State, Washington spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, and helped lead her alma mater to its only national title in 2001.

Players to know

Teniya Page, junior, guard, 5’7, No. 11. Page missed the first five games of the season with a broken ankle, but has led Penn State in scoring with 17.4 points a game since returning. Last year, she averaged 19.9 points and became the first player in program history to make 200 field goals, 60 three-pointers, 100 free throws and have 100 assists in the same season. She was a big reason the Nittany Lions were able to keep it close against Maryland last year, as she scored 27 points and hit six threes.

Amari Carter, redshirt sophomore, guard, 5’8, No. 2. The St. John’s graduate is averaging 14.4 points and a team-leading 3.9 assists and 2.6 steals per game. She scored 22 points and had eight assists against Maryland last year, forming a combo that the Terps struggled to stop.

Jaida Travascio-Green, sophomore, guard, 6’2 No. 31. Travascio-Green averages 11.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. She attempts over seven threes a game, but has hit just 28.8 percent of her shots from deep. Page, Carter and Travascio-Green have taken 56.3 percent of Penn State’s shots.

De’Janae Boykin, redshirt sophomore, forward, 6’2, No.35. Boykin has been a force on the boards, averaging a team-high 9.4 rebounds per game to go along with 7.1 points per game. Maryland is a solid rebounding team, but has struggled at times on the defensive glass.

Strength

Shot-blocking. Penn State averages 4.6 blocks per game, which is 52nd in the NCAA. Usually this would make a team feared inside, but the Nittany Lions are the worst rebounding team in the Big 10.

Weakness

Rebounding. Penn State is the only team in the Big Ten with a negative rebounding margin. Maryland ranks second in the conference with a plus-10.4 margin, and has the best offensive rebound percentage in the conference, so this game could get out of hand if the Nittany Lions aren’t careful.

Three things to watch

  1. Can Maryland contain Teniya Page? Page is Penn State’s most dynamic player, and her performance could be the difference between an easy and tough afternoon for Maryland. Expect Brenda Frese to try to take her and the other Nittany Lions guards out of the game with a variety of defensive looks.
  2. How does Maryland handle playing on the road? The last time Maryland played a power conference team on the road, it escaped Virginia with an ugly win. The Terps don’t have to face a challenging defense or 6’9 center on Sunday, but this experience will help down the line when Maryland ends the season playing five of seven away from the Xfinity Center.
  3. Will free-throw shooting improve? The Terps shot 62.5 percent from the charity stripe Thursday, and have now shot under 70 percent from the foul line in eight of their last 11 games. It hasn’t mattered in a while, but could make a difference Sunday.

Prediction

Maryland wins, 86-73.