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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Purdue preview

The Terps start their final week of the regular season on the road.

Maryland women’s basketball Taylor Mikesell vs. Georgia Tech Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland women’s basketball was down seven points with under a minute to play against Minnesota on Thursday night. The Terrapins found a way to win.

Not only did they avoid a loss to drop in the Big Ten standings, but Iowa blew a 16-point lead against Indiana to give the Terps sole possession of first place with just two games remaining.

While Maryland is back in the driver’s seat to win the conference championship, it still needs to take care of business to take away anyone’s chances of stealing the title before the season ends. The penultimate challenge will be on the road against Purdue on Monday.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET and the game can be watched on the Big Ten Network.

Purdue Boilermakers (17-12, 8-8 Big Ten)

2017-18 record: 20-14, 9-8

Head coach Sharon Versyp is in her 13th season in West Lafayette, turning the program into one of the conference’s best in that span. Under her guidance, the Boilermakers have won four Big Ten tournament championships, and they’ve made the NCAA Tournament nine times. That includes two Elite Eight appearances in 2007 and 2009.

Players to know

Karissa McLaughlin, sophomore, guard, 5’7, No. 1. In her first year with the program, McLaughlin contributed right away. She started 30 of the team’s 34 games and finished fourth on the team with 10.4 points per game. With a year of experience under her belt, McLaughlin has been even better. She currently paces the team with 15.9 points and 3.9 assists per game, and she’s shooting 42.8 percent from the field, 39.5 percent from beyond the arc and 89 percent from the free-throw line.

Dominique Oden, junior, guard, 5’8, No. 11. Oden was the leader of last year’s team, pacing the squad with 14.1 points per game. And while she’s taken a scoring backseat to McLaughlin, Oden has been terrific once again in her second season as a full-time starter. She currently averages 14.8 points per game to complement her fellow starting guard, and she leads the defense with 49 steals on the year.

Ae’Rianna Harris, junior, forward, 6’1, No. 32. Harris, like Oden, is now in her third year with the program, and she was called upon often last season as the team’s third leading scorer. She averaged 11.7 points per game and led with 8.9 rebounds per game as well. She’s still third in scoring now, but she’s up to 13.0 points per game and also brings down 9.1 boards.


Defense. While the Boilermakers have struggled on offense this season (more on that later), the defense has held its own and accounted for many of the wins thus far. They’ve given up just 63.3 points per game since conference play has begun, which ranks third in the Big Ten. That can be attributed to great interior defense, as Purdue blocks an average of 5.4 shots per game, tops in the conference.


Offense. While McLaughlin, Oden and Harris have been terrific for the Boilermakers, the rest of the team has not held its own thus far. The aforementioned trio accounts for 67.4 percent of the team’s points, and that’s why Purdue is 12th in the Big Ten with 64.8 points per game on the season. And since conference play has begun, the Boilermakers rank last with 61.9 points per contest.

Three things to watch

1. Is a third blowout on the way? After each of the first two losses for Maryland this season, the first game back resulted in a very close game that saw the Terps pull out the win after a strong fourth quarter. The next game after that was a dominating victory, as they beat Nebraska and Ohio State by an average of 15.5 points per game. It’s a small sample size, but after narrowly escaping a loss against Minnesota on Thursday, the Terrapins may leave no doubt against Purdue.

2. Who steps up for the Boilermakers? Right now, Maryland’s defense needs to key in on three players—McLaughlin, Oden and Harris. If they can be contained early, Purdue will struggle to score and can fall behind. That’s why it’ll need strong contributions from its supporting cast if it wants a chance to pull off the upset. Tamara Farquhar (6.7 points per game) and Kayana Traylor (5.7) will likely be called upon often.

3. How does Kaila Charles follow up her last game? After scoring 29 points and making game-tying and game-winning layups in the final 10 seconds to get the win on Thursday, Charles will be hard-pressed to replicate that performance. However, if the team starts off strong, she won’t have to. The rest of the Terrapins will likely have better games, but don’t be surprised to see Charles lead the way once again with added confidence.