Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Preview: No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball looks to get back to winning ways against Miami

By Brandon Schwartzberg

Following two straight losses in the Bahamas as part of the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship, Maryland women’s basketball dropped six spots to No. 8 in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

The Terps will look to rebound and get back in the win column as they take on the Miami Hurricanes as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at home in College Park Thursday night.

Maryland was left shorthanded in Nassau, as both Katie Benzan and Faith Masonius didn’t travel with the team as they battled illnesses.

“It looks a lot different when you bring back one of your starters and your sixth man. They’re going to go as much as they can go,” coach Brenda Frese said.

In addition to missing Benzan and Masonius, Diamond Miller was unable to play as she battled a knee injury, forcing Maryland to play multiple players over 35 minutes against both NC State and Stanford.

In the 78-60 loss to NC State, Maryland came out of the gate at a sluggish pace and never found its footing, as NC State led by over 20 at halftime. 

The Wolfpack let their foot off the gas in the second half, but it didn’t matter, as the Terps shot a poor 34% from the field, and only 20% from deep in the game. 

The Terps struggled to stop Elissa Cunan for the Wolfpack offense. Cunan notched a double-double, scoring 20 points and hauling in 10 rebounds, all while only missing one of her nine shots from the floor. In addition, Cunan knocked down all four of her free throws.

Overall, NC State shot just under 50% from the field. The Wolfpack got out to an early lead and never looked back, and with the win moved to No. 2 in the country.

The matchup with Stanford didn’t go any better for Maryland, as the Cardinal also got out to an early lead and cruised to the finish line to secure an easy win.

The Cardinal were led by Hannah Jump, as she cashed in on seven three pointers en route to a team-high 21 points. Three other Stanford players reached double figures, as they played with excellent team offense against a shaky Maryland defense.

Maryland struggled with foul trouble, as three Terps recorded at least four personal fouls. 

The Terps only scored four points from their bench, as playing without three rotation players seemed as a monumental challenge. 

“With Diamond back in the fold you’re not having to play a freshman with a top five team that many minutes. With these five starters, with limited depth off the bench, those five have to be consistent. I think it’s asking a lot right now early with your freshman, your sophomores, without your vets to have consistency.”

The lone bright spot was Ashley Owusu, who notched a season-high 30 points and 11 free throws made and attempted.

Along with Maryland, Miami comes in losers of two straight, both of which occurring as part of the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship.

The Hurricanes had poor shooting in both contests, as their offense didn’t travel to Nassau. In fact, Miami’s offense has struggled overall to start the year, as they rank 297th among all division one schools in points per game. In comparison, Maryland is ranked in the Top 10, scoring almost 30 more points per game.

Miami’s calling card is their defense, as they allow just over 50 points a game. Meanwhile, Maryland gives up nearly 15 more points per game, as the Terps have been inconsistent on defense early on.

Each squad looks to avoid extending their losing streak to three games, while at the same time picking up a win for their respective conferences in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

The game on Thursday will start at 8 p.m. and will take place at the Xfinity Center in College Park.

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