The second-ranked Maryland water turtle should now feel good about herself. They won the perennial national team that defeated Baylor with a three-pointer on Sunday, and Baylor was ranked sixth at the time.
The last time the Terps defeated a perennial strong team or top 10 team was on November 18, 2018, when they defeated the 10th ranked South Carolina, which is one year away from the national championship game. When you play a team like Baylor, there is an intimidation factor, and Maryland surpassed that on Sunday. It’s a good thing that Terps star player and leader Ashley Owusu experienced such a victory for the first time.
Knowing that victory is without Katie Benzan (ill) and Faith Masonius (ill) and Diamond Miller being late and unavailable, Maryland should feel good too. Benzan is the best three-point shooter in the country, averaging 12.7 points per game last year. She is a huge missing part. Masoniius is an excellent role player, just like you can find in this country, and gives Terps depth. Then of course Miller is a member of the top ten preseason teams. So if Maryland is completely healthy, it can really dominate against Baylor.
When the schedule in Maryland is very difficult, it is good to feel good. The formidable roster will continue on Thanksgiving, when it will face the No. 5 wolves in North Carolina in the Bahamas for the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship. As part of the same game, Tepps will face defending national champion Stanford University (7th) on Saturday.
North Carolina State University is more talented on paper than Baylor and is closer to 7 points than the No. 1 South Carolina team. Maryland will have Elissa Cunane, the ACC preseason player of the year, and Jakia Brown-Turner, who won the National Honor Award last year. The Wolves also have talented Rutgers who moved to Diamond Johnson and Reina Perez, Keira Jones and Kai Krugerfield influence returnees.
Unsurprisingly, the best offensive team in the United States a year ago, Maryland, averaged 7.4 points more than North Carolina State University. Terp’s top scorer Angelis has climbed with an average of 19 points per game, and her 17-point performance against Baylor proves that she is not only dominant in smaller games. Owusu, Mimi Collins, Benzan, Shyanne Sellers and Chloe Bibby joined Reese to represent Maryland in two digits. Cunane (14.4 points per game) is the Wolves’ leading scorer, only her, Brown-Turner and Johnson scored in double figures. However, NC State’s score depth is indeed more than Terps.
Wolfpack lost to South Carolina, but had two convincing victories in Florida and Kansas. We will see if they can turn their four-game winning streak into a victory against Maryland. If this happens, it’s hard to call it uneasy, because these teams are tied at the beginning of the season, with Maryland ranked 4th and North Carolina 5th.
We will also see if Miller is on the court and how effective she will be if she is on the court. She limped away from Baylor’s game in the third quarterA knee injury prevented her from participating in the first four games of the season. Hope that Benzan and Masonius can play smoothly, but Maryland proved on Sunday that they have enough firepower to defeat the top-ranked teams without going all out.
No. 5 North Carolina (4-1, 0-0 ACC) and No. 2 Maryland (6-0, 0-0 Big 10)
when: Thursday, November 25th at 11 a.m. Eastern Time
Where: Bahamas Convention Center, Nassau, Bahamas
How to watch/listen: FloHoops/GoPack is omnipotent
The key to the game: Defense of North Carolina. Wolfpack must make this a low-scoring game. Baylor attributed it to the 70s and almost won. Maryland wants to live in the 80s and 90s, and if you get there, it will be hard to beat it. All offenses, even great offenses, are prone to pauses, and North Carolina needs to make sure that the Terps are in trouble. Owusu will be reluctant to shoot three-pointers, so Wolfpack can give her some space, but you have to be careful, she won’t beat you on those long two-pointers that she is very good at. The other thing is that Cunei will have a height advantage over the big men in Maryland (Reese and Collins) and may ruin them in the paint.