The last time the Maryland Terrapins faced the Connecticut Huskies, things didn’t end well for them as UConn knocked them out of the Final Four. The Huskies then went on to win the National Championship. The Maggie Dixon Classic is the reason for the meeting between two top five teams.
The number one team in the land is coming off a 86-40 rout of LSU without their All-World forward Breanna Stewart. Moriah Jefferson led the way with 17 points, 7 assists, and four steals. Uconn used the strength of their defense to run away from the Tigers as they forced 28 turnovers, their offense certainly wasn’t the same without Stewart, but they got the job done. Uconn has played four ranked opponents already this season, Maryland being the fifth.
The Terps are wrapping up their nonconference schedule with a huge test in Connecticut, they’ve won all 11 games this season and haven’t really been tested yet. The #6 ranked team in the country is led by Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and center Brionna Jones, together they’ve powered Maryland to an undefeated record and will have to take on larger roles this season versus last.
Both teams are far different from their last meeting, each side is missing several key players due to graduation and are looking for folks to step up and claim larger roles. For Maryland, they are now without Lauren Mincy and Lexie Brown. Connecticut no longer has the versatile Kiah Stokes and sharp shooting Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.
In that Final Four meeting, Brene Moseley and Jones had success against Uconn scoring 12 and 14 points respectively. For the Huskies, Morgan Tuck played a huge role with 24 points and 9 rebounds while Jefferson had 14. For both teams, those that had success last season in lesser roles must step it up another notch to help their respective teams earn a win.
Stewart is expected to play tonight against Maryland as she missed the LSU game with a sprained ankle. It’ll be interesting to see how the Terps choose to defend her as she had success against them in the last meeting. Uconn’s wings will be facing a Maryland side that has good size on the wings in Walker-Kimbrough, Kiara Leslie, and freshman Kiah Gillespie.
Gillespie is an interesting story as she is from Connecticut and was on Geno’s radar, she chose instead to go to Maryland and play for Brenda Frese. She is the one player on Maryland’s roster that has that Uconn type size and versatile game. It wouldn’t be a bad time for the frosh to have a big game, she’ll be playing in front of friends and family as the Garden is just an extension of a home court for the Huskies.
This Huskies team isn’t quite the dynamo that last year’s team was, but anytime you have the best player in the country on your roster, you have to like your chances. This is one of the most versatile rosters that Frese has had during her tenure at Maryland and we’ll get to see if it pays off tonight at 8:30 pm Eastern on ESPN.