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Women's NCAA Tournament 2016: Maryland vs. Washington preview, as Terps look for another Sweet 16 berth

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The Terps host the Huskies in College Park.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland women’s basketball has advanced to the second round of the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The second-seeded Terps took down Iona in the first round on Saturday afternoon, even though the game was closer than expected for quite some time.

The encore act at Xfinity Center was the Washington-Penn game, which the No. 7 Huskies won, 65-53, to set up a Monday matchup with the Terps. Washington scored just 7 points in the first quarter but stuck around and pulled away in the fourth quarter. Kelsey Plum, the best scorer in program history, scored 24 points despite a tough shooting night (9-of-25 from the floor, 1-of-8 from deep).

Stopping the junior guard is the Terps’ top priority in Monday’s game, head coach Brenda Frese said at Sunday’s press conference. Plum and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough are two of the best perimeter players in the country, and seeing them on the same floor this early in the tournament figures to be a real treat.

The second-round matchup will tip off at 6:30 p.m. ET. It will be a part of ESPN2’s whiparound coverage, although the Worldwide Leader isn’t sending any of its broadcasters to College Park.

Washington Huskies (23-10, 11-7 Pac-12)

The coach

Mike Neighbors is in his third season as the Huskies’ head coach and fifth with the program overall. He holds a 67-34 record at Washington and has led the team to the NCAA Tournament twice in a row (they earned a 6-seed but lost in the first round in 2015).

Players to know

Kelsey Plum, junior, guard, 5’8, No. 10. Plum is really, really good at scoring points. She has averaged 26.1 per game this year, the third-best mark in the nation. Saturday’s contest was her 100th career game, and she has started all of them, in the process becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer. She’s a career 37 percent shooter from three (34 percent this year) but is most dangerous when driving the lane. She gets to the foul line nearly 8 times a night and shoots 89.3 percent when she gets there. She also dishes out a team-high 3.9 assists. If the Huskies are to upset Maryland, Plum is likely to be the main reason why.

Talia Walton, redshirt senior, forward, 6’2, No. 3. Her numbers won’t jump out at you the way Plum’s do, but they’re nothing to sneeze at. Walton records 15.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, both second on the Huskies. She has taken exactly as many threes as Plum and made more of them (35 percent).

Chantel Osahor, junior, forward, 6’2, No. 0. Another well-rounded offensive player, Osahor scores 9.6 points and hauls in 10.7 boards (although most of those are of the defensive variety). Like Walton, roughly 40 percent of her shots are threes, and she makes them at a 34.4 percent clip. The Huskies have a balanced core of veterans that could give the Terps fits.

Strength

Foul shooting. Washington shoots 77.9 percent from the charity stripe, which is sixth-best in the country. Granted, most of this is due to Kelsey Plum, but she’ll probably be at the line more than anyone, so expect a pretty good percentage overall.

Weakness

Depth. Only six Huskies saw action against Penn, which is never ideal. Head coach Mike Neighbors said they might only play five on Monday. The team’s lack of depth has led to fewer weekly practice hours since the start of conference play. Maryland, on the other hand, routinely brings its seventh and eighth players into the game by the middle of the first quarter. If the Terps can wear the Washington stars down, that ought to pay major dividends.

Prediction

Maryland wins, 81-69.