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No. 9 Maryland women’s basketball vs. Nebraska preview

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After an extended break between games, the Terps head back on the road for another Big Ten matchup.

Wisconsin v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

No. 9 Maryland women’s basketball (13-2) will look for its third straight win when it takes on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Nebraska, Sunday evening.

The Terps haven’t played since their dominant 84-48 win over Wisconsin in College Park on Feb. 4 and they also had a Feb. 7 matchup against Michigan postponed due to COVID-19 complications within the Wolverines’ program.

“We’re really looking forward to finally playing a game,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “I mean it’s been a week of fine tuning us and working through practices.”

The Terps’ last win was Maryland head coach Brenda Frese’s 499th victory, tying Hall of Famer Chris Weller for the most wins in Maryland women’s basketball history. She has the chance to reach 500 victories and set the program record in the matchup with the Cornhuskers.

Now, Maryland continues to sit atop of the Big Ten standings with the likes of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State trailing not too far behind. The Terps are 9-1 in Big Ten play and have suffered just one loss in 2021.

The last time the Terps and Cornhuskers faced off, Maryland defeated Nebraska, 87-69, in College Park. Former Terp and current Connecticut Sun player Kaila Charles led the way for Maryland, scoring 23 points in the January 2020 contest.

Sunday’s game between these two Big Ten teams will tip-off on Fox Sports 1 at 5 p.m. Let’s take a look at what Maryland is up against in Nebraska.

Nebraska (9-8, 7-7 Big Ten)

2019-20 record: 17-13 (7-11 Big Ten)

Head coach Amy Williams has been at the helm of the Cornhuskers’ coaching staff since 2016. In just her second season as head coach, she led Nebraska to a bid for the 2018 NCAA Tournament after helping her team accumulate a strong 21-11 record. That same season, Williams was awarded the 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year Award. In 2019-20, she led the Cornhuskers to a 17-13 overall record before the season ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This season, the Cornhuskers sit just above the .500 mark and are currently placed in seventh in the Big Ten standings.

Players to know

Sam Haiby, junior guard, 5-foot-9, No. 4 — After averaging the second-most points on the Cornhuskers’ roster last season, Haiby has taken a huge step forward with her play in the 2020-21 campaign. She is the team's leading scoring threat with 18.1 points per game on nearly 40% shooting. Haiby also leads Nebraska in minutes per game, assists per game and has started in all 17 contest this season. She’s a true offensive weapon for this Cornhuskers’ roster and she can do damage from just about anywhere on the court. The Terps will have to keep tabs on Haiby at all times on the floor to prevent any kind of scoring outburst.

Kate Cain, senior center, 6-foot-5, No. 31 — Nebraska will need a stellar performance from Cain if the Cornhuskers hope to pull off the upset. The senior is third on the team in scoring with 9.5 points per game and averages 6.5 rebounds per game as well. However, Cain’s largest impact will need to come from the inside on the defensive end. She has accumulated a team-high 54 blocks this season in just 17 games. That’s over three blocks per game, and the next-best Cornhusker is Bella Cravens with 21 blocks on the entire season. Cain will look to dominate in the paint as she hopes to keep Maryland on the perimeter for the majority of the game.

Isabelle Bourne, sophomore forward, 6-foot-2, No. 34 — Bourne is another weapon for the Cornhuskers that will most certainly be involved come Sunday. After starting in 12 games so far this season, she has averaged the second-most points on the team with 13.1 per game on 43.9% shooting from the floor. She averages the second-most minutes on the team with 31.2. Bourne is yet another option for the Cornhuskers that will need to produce quality minutes if they hope to stand any chance against the Terps.

Strength

Defending the long ball. Nebraska has been solid at defending its opponents’ three-point attempts throughout this season. The Cornhuskers are allowing other teams to shoot just 31.2% from three-point range this season. Nebraska will need to be on its best game on the perimeter when Maryland comes to town. The Terps are averaging 9.1 three-pointers per game and they are shooting a lights-out 40.4% from deep as a team.

Weakness

Rebounding. Maryland’s tall lineup should service it well when it takes on Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have a -1.3 rebounding margin, compared to a +7.3 team rebounding margin for the Terps. If Maryland looks to avoid a second loss in 2021, it will have to take advantage on the boards.

“We want to be able to use that to our advantage on both ends of the floor, both crashing the glass as well as letting them only get one shot and one shot only,” Frese said.

Three things to watch

1. Will Frese capture win No. 500 at Maryland? In 19 seasons at the Maryland, Frese has now accumulated a total of 499 wins. She is currently tied with former head coach Hall of Famer Chris Weller for the most wins in program history. With win No. 500, she will become the all-time winningest coach for Maryland women’s basketball. Come Sunday, Maryland women’s basketball's history can be re-written with a win over Nebraska and all eyes will be on Frese if the Terps pull out a win on the road.

“The thing I’m most proud of is just the consistency factor over the years when you talk about so many incredible players and staff members that have come through this program to be able to keep this bar at such a high level,” Frese said.

2. Will Maryland be able to maintain its recent domination of opponents? Since the 88-86 loss to then-No. 17 Ohio State on the road all the way back on Jan. 25, the Terps have been on an absolute tear as of late. After allowing just 52 points to Michigan State, the Terps then followed that up with holding Wisconsin to just 48 points. In those two games combined, Maryland is outscoring its opponents 176-100. After a long break between games, it’ll be interesting to see if the Terps have the ability to maintain its torrid run, especially on the defensive end.

3. Will glass-cleaners like Mimi Collins and Faith Masonius receive more minutes? Maryland’s strong rebounding margin can be used to its advantage when it faces Nebraska, a team that is stuck with a negative rebounding margin on the season. It may make more sense for Frese to roll with her strong rebounders, such as Collins, who is averaging an active roster team-high of seven rebounds per game. Other players like Masonius may see more than her average of 20.9 minutes per game after coming up with 11 rebounds in the win against Wisconsin. Look for the Terps to roll with a rebound-hungry lineup when they visit the Cornhuskers.