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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Minnesota preview

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The Terps hit the road to take on a tough Golden Gophers squad.

Maryland women’s basketball Photo by Maryland Athletics

After an unexpected home loss, Maryland women’s basketball looks to get back on track Sunday at Minnesota.

The Terps looked slightly off from the beginning of Thursday’s game, but managed to rally and build a ten point lead halfway through the third quarter, only to fall to Purdue, 75-65.

“We never really got into any rhythm,” Brenda Frese said. “You saw how we came out in the third quarter and I thought we settled in and were finding a good rhythm and we went away from it and forgot what had gotten us that lead.”

Frese’s team will have its hands full trying to get back into the win column on Sunday. The Golden Gophers have won eight of their last 10 and are 12-1 at home. They are also trying to stay on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, so a win over Maryland would be a huge boost for their resume.

Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on BTN.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (20-6, 9-4)

Head coach Marlene Stollings is 79-44 in four seasons at Minnesota. She was the head coach at Winthrop and VCU before taking the job at Minnesota, and spent the previous 11 seasons as an assistant coach.

Players to know

Kenisha Bell, redshirt junior guard, 5’9, No. 23. Bell makes Minnesota’s offense go, averaging a team-high 19.7 points per game and a Big Ten-leading 6.6 assists per game. She’s also been to the foul line a Big Ten high 179 times, and her 2.7 steals per game are second in the conference.

Carlie Wagner, senior, guard, 5’10, No. 33. Wagner is enjoying another excellent season, averaging 17.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. She’s Minnesota biggest three-point threat, posting a 42.6 percent clip from beyond the arc.

Gadiva Hubbard, sophomore, guard, 5’9, No. 34. Hubbard had a strong freshman campaign, and is averaging 13.4 points and 3.6 assists per game as a sophomore. She’s also a threat from distance, hitting 36.3 percent of her three-point attempts.

Destiny Pitts, freshman, guard/forward, 5’10, No. 3. Pitts is the Gophers’ lone freshman, and her college career is off to a great start. She’s put up 12.9 points and a team-leading 7.6 rebounds per game, while doing most of her damage from outside. Almost 70 percent of her shots have been threes, and she’s hit over 37 percent of them.

Strength

Offense. Minnesota’s 85.2 points per game are fourth in Division I. This team loves to push the pace and shoot threes, and has only scored under 70 points once this season.

Weakness

Defense. As much as Minnesota excels at scoring, they struggle almost as much at letting the other team score. Ohio State is the only Big Ten team to allow more points a game than the Gophers.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland finds its groove again? Something just didn’t look right with the Terps from the opening tip on Thursday. They had some uncharacteristic misses on offense and got picked apart at times on the defensive end.

“We went man, they were beating us off the bounce; we went zone, they were hitting threes,” Frese said about Purdue.

Maryland will have to be better in both areas Sunday, as falling into an early hole could mean a second straight loss.

2. Can Kaila Charles lock down another prolific scorer? Charles has excelled at bottling up the best scorers in the conference, and has another opportunity to do the same to Kenisha Bell. She’ll have to be more cautious than usual, though, as Bell’s willingness to attack the rim could lead to early foul trouble.

3. How does Maryland limit Minnesota’s three-point shooting? Shooting nearly 24 threes a game like the Gophers can be a dangerous strategy. Hit a few early, and it could be a long night for the opponent. Miss a few, and it could be a long night for you. The Terps have to make sure the latter happens in order to get a win.

Prediction

Minnesota wins, 82-78