When Maryland women’s basketball takes the floor on Thursday, the team will look to start a new winning streak. The No. 8 Terps dropped two spots in the rankings thanks to two defeats at the hands of No. 1 UConn and No. 5 Ohio State last week.
Standing in their way this time around will be the young Nebraska Cornhuskers. The team boasts a 9-4 record, but like Maryland, the Huskers mainly played mid-major patsies in the early part of the season. The notable exception, of course, was their Nov. 28 visit to UConn, which resulted in an 88-46 drubbing. Nebraska is also looking to return to form after losing its first two conference games to Iowa and No. 13 Northwestern.
Nebraska (9-4, 0-2 B1G)
Connie Yori. One of the winningest active coaches in women’s college basketball, Yuri has won 466 games in her 25 and a half seasons. She’s been the coach at Nebraska since 2002, and her largely successful tenure in Lincoln was highlighted by the 2009-10 season, in which the Huskers won their first 30 games before finally falling in the Big 12 title game and getting upset as a 1-seed in the Sweet 16. Yori earned Coach of the Year that season. The program hasn’t reached such heights before or since, but it is coming off four straight NCAA tournament appearances.
Players to know
Jessica Shepard, freshman, forward, 6’4, No. 24. The No. 3 player in the nation coming out of high school, Shepard is the highest-ranked recruit ever to come out of Nebraska, and she stayed in-state to join the Huskers. She has stepped right in and become the team’s best player, averaging 19.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and erupting for 35 on Dec. 19 against Northern Arizona. She also gets to the line a lot, but shoots just 54.7 percent from the charity stripe.
Natalie Romeo, sophomore, guard, 5’7, No. 5. She is Nebraska’s point guard and most potent 3-point shooting threat. Romeo is 40-93 (43 percent) from beyond the arc and tallies 15.5 points a game. Romeo has started 12 of 13 games this year after cracking the rotation towards the end of the 2013-15 season.
Rachel Theriot, senior, guard, 6’0, No. 33. A four-year starter who is fifth in Cornhusker history in assists. Theriot was an All-B1G selection as a sophomore and was named to the preseason all-conference team this year, although the arrival of Shepard and emergence of Romeo have dropped her scoring numbers to 12.7 a night. However, she still leads the squad with 7 assists per game.
Frontcourt size. Starting alongside Shepard will be 6’5 junior center Allie Havers, the tallest starter the Terps have gone up against thus far. For the first time this year (save for maybe the UConn game), Brionna Jones and Malina Howard won’t have such a considerable height advantage against their counterparts.
Rebounding. This will come as a shock after what I just said, but in the team’s first two conference matchups, it has lost the overall rebounding battle, 108-75. And as most of you know, Maryland has several strong rebounders (see: Jones, Brionna) on its roster.
Thomas’s Prediction: Maryland, 84-67.