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Maryland women’s basketball vs. South Carolina preview

The Terps head to Columbia for a top-10 matchup.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Albany Regional-South Carolina vs Connecticut Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A year after South Carolina beat Maryland women’s basketball on its home floor, the Terps have the chance to do the same to the 10th-ranked Gamecocks on Sunday.

This will be the toughest test of the young season for both teams, who have dominated some opponents and struggled to put away others. The Terps have two blowout wins over Coppin State and George Washington, but let Dayton hang around in an 82-71 win last Sunday. South Carolina obliterated an overmatched Alabama State team in its season opener, only to struggle and commit 27 turnovers in a 69-57 win over Clemson on Thursday night.

The Terps whittled down a 26-point third-quarter lead to three with under a minute left before ultimately falling to the Gamecocks, 94-86, in College Park last November. Like every team South Carolina played last year, Maryland struggled to contain A’ja Wilson, who finished with a career-high 32 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. This year, though, Wilson is off tearing up the WNBA while the Terps return four of their top five leading scorers.

Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET, and you can catch the game on ESPN

South Carolina Gamecocks (2-0)

2017-18 record: 29-7, 12-4 SEC, NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

Head coach Dawn Staley has turned South Carolina into a national power since coming to Columbia. After going 42-48 her first three seasons, the Gamecocks have won at least 25 games the last seven years and captured a national championship in 2017. A Philadelphia native, Staley coached eight years at Temple and led the Owls to five straight NCAA Tournaments before taking the South Carolina job. She also starred at Virginia from 1989-1992, winning Naismith Player of the Year her junior and senior year.

Players to know

Te’a Cooper, junior, guard, 5’8, No 2. Cooper has averaged 16 points per game over the first two games to lead South Carolina’s offense. She spent the first two years of her college career at Tennessee before leaving the program after allegedly fighting with a teammate. She missed the 2016-17 season with a knee injury and all of last season after having her hardship waiver denied by the NCAA.

Bianca Jackson, sophomore, guard, 5’11, No. 10. Jackson broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and has started both games this season. Her 11 points per game are second on the team so far.

Tyasha Harris, junior, guard, 5’10, No. 52. Although she’s off to a bit of a slow start this season, Harris is South Carolina’s floor general. She’s averaged nine points, five rebounds and 5.5 assists a game so far, and had 20 points and nine assists against Maryland last year. Her three-point play with 23 seconds left silenced the Terps’ comeback.


Defense. Since Staley has been in South Carolina, stout defense has been a big part of the Gamecocks’ success. To start the year, South Carolina has allowed an absurd 58 points per 100 possessions, according to HerHoopsStats.


Generating outside shots. With no dominant player like Wilson inside, South Carolina has had to get more productions from its guards. The Gamecocks’ 25.8 percent of points from three are up from 17.4 percent last year, but that’s still 185th in Division I, according to HerHoopsStats.

Three things to watch

  1. Who controls the tempo? South Carolina likes to play at a slower pace and Maryland likes to run and get out in transition. Last year, the Gamecocks tired at the end when the Terps started to control the flow of the game.
  2. Can Maryland’s shooters get going? The Terps have shot just under 27 percent on three-pointers, including 2-of-16 against GW. Taylor Mikesell has shot a respectable 36.8 percent, but Blair Watson has gone just 4-for-14 as she works her way back from a torn ACL. It doesn’t take much to get Watson going, though, and she can be a game-changer when her shot is falling.
  3. Does Kaila Charles continue to shine against ranked opponents? Before scoring four points on just 2-of-8 shooting against NC State in last year’s NCAA Tournament, the junior averaged 27.6 points and 10.2 rebounds a game against ranked opponents. She had her national coming-out party against South Carolina last year, finishing with a then-career-high 31 points and 10 rebounds.