Terps travel to Indiana for matchup of great guards

Photo courtesy of Lauren Anikis / Stories Beneath the Shell

The Terps have had a fairly easy time on the road this season, as they have a 9-0 record in away games and have won by an average of 23.3 points.

Sunday’s game against Indiana will not be so easy.

The Hoosiers hold a 9-1 record at Assembly Hall this season, with their only loss coming at the hands of No. 14 Ohio State back on Dec. 31. They score 82.1 points per game at home, but even their high-powered offense will have trouble keeping up with the Terps, who score 90.3 points per game, the second-most in the country.

If Indiana is going to keep up with Maryland offensively, it will need junior guard Tyra Buss to be a catalyst. She is averaging 19 points while dishing out 4.8 assists per game. Buss is shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 81.6 percent from the free throw line and 36.8 percent from three-point range. Despite her smaller size, Buss is able to get to the basket and utilize her body to finish from tough angles, like she did here against Wisconsin.

All of Buss’ shooting and scoring numbers rank in the top 15 in the Big Ten, making her one of the most dangerous scorers in the conference. She is also one of the best perimeter defenders in the conference, averaging 2.5 steals per game, which ranks second behind only one of the best pickpockets in Big Ten history — Northwestern’s Ashley Deary.

When the ball isn’t in Buss’ hands, Indiana’s points usually come from junior forward Amanda Cahill or senior guard Alexis Gassion. Cahill is averaging 15 points per game and is shooting 39.1 percent from long range, good for sixth-best in the Big Ten. She is a matchup nightmare because her 6-foot-2 height forces another post player to guard her, but her three-point shooting ability makes it tough for those players to cover her on the perimeter.

Gassion is more of an inside scorer, and shoots 48.9 percent from the field while averaging 13.6 points per game. She also averages 4.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds, which makes her a dynamic threat whenever she is on the floor.

Head coach Teri Moren’s team has another offensive threat — senior center Jenn Anderson — but she will have a tough matchup with Maryland’s Brionna Jones. Anderson is averaging 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game 65.2 percent shooting, but it will be tough for her to match Jones’ 19.3 points and 10.3 rebounds.

Jones is shooting a conference-best 69.5 percent from the floor this season and will look to feast on an Indiana defense that allowed opponents to shoot 42.3 percent, which ranks second in the Big Ten.

However, Jones isn’t the only reliable weapon that the Terps have down low. Brianna Fraser has come on strong lately as Maryland’s No. 1 option off the bench. She has scored 17 and 18 points over her last two games, and both point totals set a new career-high. Fraser has also worked well alongside Jones on the court, owning the high post and freeing up space for Jones on the low block.

Fraser will again be key for the Terps on Sunday against the Hoosiers, as her athleticism will allow her to match up well with Cahill and stay with her on the perimeter.

Despite Cahill’s success from outside, the perimeter should be dominated by Maryland and its guard play in this game. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough has been one of the Big Ten’s best three-point shooters this season, which has helped her average 16.7 points per game. Additionally, Destiny Slocum is running the Maryland offense and leading the conference in assists per game as a freshman.

The point guard matchup between Slocum and Buss will be very intriguing. Both are great scorers, but also play stellar defense, and the winner of this guard battle could go a long way in deciding the winner of Sunday’s game.

The matchup between the Terps and Hoosiers will tip-off at 12 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5 at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. The game can be seen on ESPN2.

Edited by Max Marcilla