The Maryland Terrapins have made it safely to Bridgeport, they’ll be facing the Oregon Ducks on Saturday morning at Webster Bank arena in the first of two Sweet 16 games on the schedule.
The Ducks come off a big upset win over the second seeded Duke Blue Devils. Like Maryland they are run by a freshman floor general, Sabrina Ionescu. She comes into the contest averaging 14.4 points a contest, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. While Oregon doesn’t run like their Big Ten counterparts, they thrive on being prepared and executing game plan to a tee. In addition to Ionescu, the Ducks have another freshman, Ms. Ruthy Hebard. The 6’4 center is averaging nearly 8.7 boards a game.
Oregon is one of the best three point shooting teams in the entire country, Lexi Bando is shooting a staggering 47% from beyond the arc. As a team, the Ducks are shooting 39% from deep. That’ll be a big part of the game on Saturday, to see if Oregon can get quality looks from deep against the newly upgraded Terrapin defense since the start of the tournament.
Senior leadership. It’s one of the key things that separate the two teams when they take the floor early Saturday, can Oregon continue their run early Saturday or will Maryland’s super Seniors set the tone again and lead their team to victory?
Coach Brenda Frese is not worried in the least bit about her team being ready to play on the road. It’s about packing the defense for the Terps, their ball pressure Bucknell and West Virginia played a huge role in their blowout wins. Both Kaila Charles and Kristen Confroy commented on the importance of their defense going forward. The Terps have mentioned several times this season that it’s all about playing to their standard, that “Maryland Standard.”
Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough have been laser focused since opening tip of the Bucknell game. It’ll be interesting to see how the Ducks choose to defend Brionna. Will they send a double on the catch or dribble or leave Jones alone to go one-on-one with Hebard? Oregon will also have to decide how much attention to give to Destiny Slocum, the third member of the Terps big three. Confroy is now another factor, she had struggled with her shot most of the year, but has seem to found it in the postseason.
Oregon and Maryland shoot the ball well, especially from deep. Inside the arc, the advantage lies heavy in the Terps favor in terms of shooting percentages (51.2%) and rebounding(+14.3).
Lastly, the pace will be a factor in this one as well. For the third time in as many games, the Terps opponent will try and slow things down to avoid running with Maryland. The Ducks have to avoid live ball turnovers and bad shots, both of which have lead to transition opportunities for Maryland in the previous two games.