No. 20 Maryland women’s basketball is a program that accepts challenges with open arms — and that includes welcoming the No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers to College Park Monday night.
The Terps may be in unfamiliar territory, as this could be the first matchup during the 2019-20 season in which they are ranked lower than their opponent — the new AP Poll will be revealed Monday afternoon.
Maryland won its lone game since dropping to No. 20 — a 87-69 win over Nebraska — and the Hoosiers dropped their most recent contest, 71-69, against Northwestern.
“I feel like we’re trending towards some of our best basketball right now,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “On both ends of the floor it’s really coming together. But I think it’s two great teams that are going to be competing against each other. I think for us, we want to be the more disciplined team because Indiana also has a roster that’s extremely talented.”
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.
No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers (14-4, 4-2)
Head coach Teri Moren is in her sixth season at the helm in Bloomington, Indiana, and has done an excellent job of turning the Hoosiers into a consistent contender. After a first season that resulted in a 15-16 record, Moren has brought Indiana to four straight postseason appearances — including a WNIT Championship in 2018.
Players to know
Redshirt junior guard Ali Patberg (No. 14) sees the most time on the floor for the Hoosiers, averaging 34.1 minutes per game so far this season. She has certainly earned that time by averaging 12.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and leading the team with 4.8 assists per game. The 2018-19 All-Big Ten Second Team selection did, however, struggle last year against the Terps — making just 1-of-11 shots in 26 minutes.
Senior forward Brenna Wise (No. 50) is the upperclassman leader and top forward for Indiana. She is in her second year of eligibility for the Hoosiers after spending her sophomore and freshman seasons at Pittsburgh. So far in 2019-20, she averages 9.6 points and is tied for the team lead with 5.9 rebounds per game.
Sophomore guard Grace Berger (No. 34) only started four contests as a freshman, but leads the Hoosiers with 13.0 points per game and also adds 4.2 rebounds per contest in her sophomore season. Berger also leads the team by shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range — a mark that is five percent higher than the team average
Team defense. Indiana does an excellent job across the board on the defensive end. The team posts a +18.5 scoring margin, holds teams to 34.8 percent shooting from the floor and limits opponents to 24.2 percent from three-point range. The Hoosiers also force 16.7 turnovers per game and score 16.9 points off those turnovers.
“We talked about foul trouble —they’re getting to the free-throw line 16 times a game — so we’re gonna have to reduce that,” Frese said. “I think both teams have really done a tremendous job on that end of the floor, so it really comes down to who’s a little bit better on the offensive end and who can be more disciplined on the defensive end.”
Turnovers. Despite working hard to force them on the defensive end, turnovers have been an issue for the Hoosiers on offense — particularly among their guards. Indiana ranks eighth in the Big Ten with an even turnover margin in conference play, turning the ball over 16 times per game, while forcing the same amount.
Last time out, the Hoosiers turned the ball over 21 times against Northwestern and lost by just one basket, setting the stage for Maryland to potentially make a difference in the same category.
Three things to watch
1. Will Maryland’s pressure continue making waves? The Terps rank fourth in Division I with 23.76 turnovers forced per game this season. Blair Watson has been a key player in the success of the Maryland defense, but ultimately the team’s depth is what pay dividends.
“We can stay in it [with our press]” Frese said. “Over the course of a game ... [opponents are] starting their offense a lot later in the shot clock, so they’re uncomfortable. But I think that goes down to our players — just their energy and their efforts and their commitment to the defensive end in the half court and the full court has been a huge difference for us.”
2. Can the Terps bring back positive shooting consistency? It has been a rough patch for Maryland shooting the ball outside the paint, which has contributed to the rocky start in Big Ten play. Sharpshooters Blair Watson and Taylor Mikesell have combined for 20 of the Terps’ 25 made three-pointers in conference play, where the team is shooting just 24.3 percent as a whole — though the Terps are 36.6 percent on the season.
“We still tell our shooters to shoot the ball because we know that one game that will go in. So I’m just encouraging my teammates to, one, being confident in their shots,” Kaila Charles said. “And then two, just do what I do in terms of just trying to run in transition, getting extra [offensive rebounds], getting extra possessions — sticking to what has really made us successful.”
3. Rebounding could be a deciding factor. Both Maryland and Indiana come into this matchup with positive rebounding margins in Big Ten play, but are not overwhelmingly positive. Despite its win Thursday, the Terps were outrebounded 37-31 by Nebraska and will likely need to win the battle on the boards against Indiana.
“[Rebounding is] always a big, big area for us,” Frese said. “For us it’s trying to get as many second-chance opportunities as we can get.”