No.  19 Maryland women’s basketball vs.  No.  17 Baylor preview

No. 19 Maryland women’s basketball vs. No. 17 Baylor preview

No. 19 Maryland women’s basketball will head south for a Sunday top-20 matchup with No. 17 Baylor at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. The game is set to tip-off at 3 pm and can be streamed on ESPN+.

The Terps (3-1) are coming off a 70-52 home victory over Davidson on Nov. 16. Maryland had four players in double figures, led by senior guard Diamond Miller’s 19 points. Maryland’s defense limited its counterparts to 38.2% from the field and a concerning 30.8% from behind the arc.

Baylor (3-0) narrowly defeated SMU, 58-55, after receiving 25 points from its bench. The Bears accomplished their recent triumph with senior guard Aijha Blackwell sidelined with a reported non-contact injury.

Maryland will look to pick up its first ranked victory this season, while Baylor will hope to remain undefeated early into the 2022-23 season.

These two teams met last season in College Park, with Maryland escaping with a 79-76 victory.

No. 17 Baylor Bears (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)

2021-22 records: 28-7 (15-3 Big 12)

The Baylor Bears are led by head coach Nicki Collen, who is entering her second season leading the women’s basketball program. Collen came to Baylor following three seasons leading the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. The Dream’s 23-11 record in 2018 helped Collen earn the WNBA Coach of the Year award. In her first season in the green and gold, she guided Baylor to its 12th straight Big 12 regular-season title. Collen’s 28 victories were the most wins by a first-year head coach in the NCAA.

Prior to Collen’s arrival, Baylor was almost dead last in three pointers made. Also in her debut season, the Bears set program records for three-pointers made (233) and attempted (678). She immediately displayed the ability to lure talent to Baylor, evidenced by the No. 9 recruiting class in the country, per ESPN’s HoopGurlz rankings.

With Collen leading the charge for the Bears, there is no doubt that Baylor will continue to contend for Big 12 and national titles.

Players to know

Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, freshman forward, No. 5 — Littlepage-Buggs is averaging six points and 10 rebounds per game in her first season for Baylor. She is one of three players in the Big 12 averaging double figures in rebounds this season. The former McDonald’s All-American grabbed 14 rebounds in Baylor’s recent 58-55 victory. She was a five-star recruit from Edmond, Oklahoma and has the ability to position her body for offensive and defensive rebounds. Her ability to play on the perimeter only adds to her promising skill set for a Baylor team seeking a 4-0 start to the season.

Sarah Andrews, junior guard, No. 24 — The 2021-22 All-Big 12 second team honoree averages 12.3 points per game while shooting 71.4% from the free throw line. In Baylor’s recent victory over SMU, Andrews recorded 13 points, three assists and two steals. She is a three-level scorer with the ability to get into the paint and find open teammates. With Blackwell’s status for the game being unknown, Andrews’ scoring will be pivotal for Baylor to pick up a home victory.

Bella Fauntleroy, freshman guard, No. 22 — Fontleroy was named Big 12 Women’s Basketball Player of the Week on Nov. 14. In her first game in a Baylor uniform against Lamar, she scored 17 points along with grabbing eight rebounds. She’s averaging 11 points and six rebounds per game. Fontleroy is shooting an impressive 57% from the field, paired with 50% from three-point range. Through three games, she has shown flashes of being an intricate piece of a talented Baylor team.

Strength

Defense. The Bears have been stifling opposing offenses, as they are second in the Big 12 with 49 points allowed per contest. Through three games this season, Baylor has yet to allow an opponent to score more than 55 points. Baylor is holding its counterparts to 35% shooting from the field and 28% from behind the arc.

Weakness

Three-pointers. Baylor is struggling to find success from behind the arc this season, as it is shooting at a 30% clip through three games. The Bears are 19-for-64 this season and have yet to shoot over 40% in a single game. With head coach Nicki Collen’s expertise on long-range shooting, Baylor will look to reverse its recent struggles as the season goes on.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland pick up its first victory over a ranked opponent? The Terps are on the road for the second time this season, but this time against one of the best teams in the Big 12. Maryland head coach Brenda Frese has been experimenting with different lineups this season and her freshman class has been thrust into key roles. off the bench If the Terps can manage to pick up the road victory, it would be a major confidence boost for an undersized team.

2. Will the Terps’ defense find success against a Baylor team without its leading scorer? In its 70-52 victory over Davidson, Maryland’s defense held its opponent to 38.2% from the field. Baylor may be without leading scorer Aijha Blackwell, who suffered a non-contact knee injury in the first quarter of its victory over SMU on Nov. 15. The Terps’ defense, led by sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers, looks to harass ball-handlers the entire 94 feet of the court and will look to force turnovers to ignite their offense.

3. Will turnover problems continue for Maryland? The Terps are averaging 14.8 turnovers per game, which is concerning for a team lacking the depth of previous teams. In their recent triumph over Davidson, they recorded 21 turnovers. The Terps must value the basketball and limit their turnovers in order to get more opportunities to score. With a highly anticipated showdown with Baylor near, valuing the basketball will be paramount to secure the road victory.

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