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No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball vs Penn State preview (part two)

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The Terps will close out the regular season at Xfinity Center.

Indiana v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball will host Penn State in its final home game of the season Saturday afternoon.

Maryland is currently on a nine-game winning streak and is coming off of clinching the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament and a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. With a win against the Lady Lions, the Terps will be the sole regular-season conference champions.

Five Maryland players average 10 or more points against conference opponents this season. Sophomore guards Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller lead the way, averaging 19.9 and 17.6 points per game, respectively. Two of the key additions to the Terps added to the roster in the offseason, senior guard Katie Benzan and senior forward Chloe Bibby, average 13.3 and 13.2 points per game, respectively. Redshirt sophomore forward Mimi Collins tallies an average of 10.4 points against Big Ten opponents.

The Terps also have the top scoring offense in the country, averaging 91.7 points per game.

The game is set to tip off at 3 p.m and will air on BTN Plus.

What happened last time

Then-No. 14 Maryland traveled to Happy Valley on New Year's Eve to take on Penn State for the Terps’ second conference matchup of the season.

Maryland was coming off a 12-day break in gameplay, but led by Owusu’s career-high 34 point performance, the Terps came out on top, 96-82.

At the half, Maryland led by just nine points as Penn State continued to fight throughout the entire matchup proving early on that the Big Ten is a deep conference filled with talent.

Four Maryland players finished that game in double-digit scoring. Owusu’s career-high 34 points were followed by Miller’s 17 and Bibby’s 13. Sophomore forward Faith Masonius put up 11 points as well.

In this matchup, the Terps shot an uncharacteristic 4-of-19 from behind the arc. At the time, the Terps were averaging 10.7 per game. Penn State held Benzan, the team’s leading three-point shooter, to just one from deep until there were less than two minutes left in the game.

What’s happened since

Maryland has faced 15 conference opponents since it last played Penn State, while the Lady Lions have had 16 conference games.

In that time, Maryland has gone 14-1 with its only loss being against then-No. 14 Ohio State. On the other hand, Penn State has won just six of their last 16 games— Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue, Nebraska, Wisconsin and then-No. 15 Ohio State.

Following the win against the Buckeyes, Penn State dropped two games in a row, both against a ranked Rutgers team.

Since the start of the new year, Brenda Frese earned her 500th win at Maryland, the Terps became the top scoring offense in the country, redshirt junior guard Channise Lewis tore her ACL and meniscus, and freshman forward Angel Reese made a premature return to the court after undergoing surgery on her foot in December.

This young Maryland team has continued to build its chemistry and find its groove both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

In the nine games since the loss to the Buckeyes, the Terps have averaged 90.7 points per game and hit 100 or more points in two of those matchups— Illinois and Iowa.

The matchup against Iowa is when Reese made her reappearance on the court for the first time since Dec. 3. Since returning, Reese has averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 boards per game. The No. 2 recruit in the 2020 class currently comes off the bench for the Terps and has played an average of 14.5 minutes since returning to the court.

Three things to watch

1. After a strong performance against No. 12 Michigan, how will the bench build on its momentum? One of the strengths of this Maryland team is although it has just 10 active players on the roster, it is filled with offensive weapons, and that does not stop with the Terps’ starters. Against Michigan, 27 of Maryland’s 88 points came from the bench, a stark difference from the Michigan bench’s nine points. Masonius led the bench, tallying 12 points in her 23 minutes. The sophomore forward went 4-of-6 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. Masonius also grabbed two rebounds and three assists.

2. What will the Terps look like from behind the arc? The first time these two teams met on New Year’s Eve, Maryland hit just four of its 19 attempted three-point shots. At the time, its offense was averaging 10.7 per game. Now as they close out the regular season, the Terps average 8.8 per game. Benzan leads the team in this stat category averaging seven per game. Benzan has a 52.3 shooting percentage from behind the arc, the best in the country. However, Penn State allows opponents to hit seven per game and the first go-around made it difficult for the Terps to make big plays from deep.

3. Will Maryland finish the regular season undefeated at home? The Terps have now won all nine games at home and seven of those are conference wins. At home against conference opponents this season, Maryland averages 93 points per game, above their scoring average of 91.7. The Terps have scored over 100 in four matchups at home this season, including against Iowa in what was an electric offensive showdown between the then-top two scoring offenses in the country. The Terps last went undefeated at home during the 2014-15 season when they went 15-0 to close out the regular season. That year, the Terps advanced to the Final Four.