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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Nebraska preview

Brenda Frese goes for her 500th career win as the Terps visit the Huskers.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Maryland at Connecticut
Nov 19, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Brenda Frese watches from the sideline as they take on the Connecticut Huskies in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland women’s basketball is back in the win column. After pulling away from Ohio State in the fourth quarter, 75-69, the Terrapins are 13-1 as the Big Ten schedule continues to get underway.

And Brenda Frese is one win away from an incredible milestone.

Now in her 20th season of being a head coach at the Division I level, Frese is set to join the ranks of the very few who have had such a level of prolonged success in their careers to accumulate 500 wins.

Her record over the course of her coaching career is up to 499-150 (.769), showing that she’s not only compiled a ton of victories, she’s doing so at an efficient rate.

If she wants to break that milestone in Maryland’s next game, the celebration will have to come on the road. On Tuesday night, the Terrapins will play in Lincoln for a matchup with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET and can be seen on BTN Plus.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten)

2017-18 record: 21-11 (11-5 Big Ten)

Head coach Amy Williams is in her third season with the Huskers after being named head coach in the spring of 2016. Following a four-year playing career in Lincoln, Williams got her start in coaching very soon after graduating in 1998. After stops with Rogers State and South Dakota, Williams returned to her alma mater and made the NCAA Tournament in just her second season.

Players to know

Sam Haiby, freshman, guard, 5’9, No. 4. Despite coming into a program that retained its five leading scorers, Haiby has made quite the impact to start her collegiate career. She’s come off the bench in every game thus far, but that hasn’t stopped the freshman from pacing the team in scoring through 14 games. In 22.6 minutes per game, Haiby has averaged 10.7 points and 2.8 assists, first and second on the team, respectively.

Leigha Brown, freshman, forward, 6’1, No. 32. Like Haiby, not only is Brown in her first year with Nebraska, she also hasn’t received a single start yet this season. Nevertheless, her contributions to the team have been invaluable coming off the bench. In only 17.6 minutes per game, Brown has averaged 10.4 points, second on the team, while shooting the ball from the field at a 44 percent clip.

Strength

Depth. So far this season, the Huskers haven’t had too many standout players. Instead, the offense has been an ensemble act, and contributions have come in from all over the court and bench. Eight players have averaged at least 17.5 minutes and 7.8 points, and on any given night a single player could break out and take over the game.

Weakness

Defense. Nebraska is a relatively young team, currently led by a pair of freshman. And as is often the case with younger squads, defense could be tough in the early stages of the season. That’s been the case thus far, as the Huskers allow 70.4 points per game to opponents, second worst in the Big Ten and 290th in the nation out of 349 Division I teams.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland get back on track? The Terrapins have won two of their past three games, so the sky isn’t falling just yet. But as conference play has started, Maryland has not looked the part of a top-five team. In fact, they’ve looked average at best over the past two weeks. This is a good chance to get back on track, but then again, so was Saturday’s home game against the Buckeyes.

2. What’s wrong with Shakira Austin? After four Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards through the first half-dozen weeks of the season, it seemed as though Maryland women’s basketball had the new face of its program. And while we’ll reserve judgement on a freshman for a three-game stretch, it hasn’t been good as of late. Over the past two weeks, Austin has averaged 3.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in just 16.3 minutes per outing.

3. Who steps up for Nebraska? As mentioned previously, the Huskers have eight players scoring often. And while that formula bodes well over the course of the season, to knock off a top team like Maryland, someone is going to have to step up in a big way to lead the Huskers to victory. That could be Haiby or Brown or anyone, and we’ll have to see who shoulders the weight in a big spot.