by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup
Coming into the season, the expectations were high for Maryland. The team had a smooth blend of upperclassmen and young budding stars. Maryland also had reigning ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas. A trip to the Final Four, at minimum, seemed in grasp for the Terps before a bucket was dropped.
Then a wrench was thrown in the plans. Point guard Brene Moseley was hurt early and lost for the season. And just when New Jersey native Laurin Mincy began to make the transition, she was hurt and lost for the season as well.
No one would have blamed Maryland for letting up this year. Excuses were placed at their fingertips, instead the Terps have dug in and found a way to win games. Tianna Hawkins has been sensational. Alyssa Thomas has stepped up her play and showcased her full offensive repertoire by not only scoring and rebounding, but creating easy shots for others.
This week, Maryland will play their biggest game of the season against Duke. A win would tie them for first place in the ACC. To be in this situation is a testament to the great coaching and hard work of their players. Going into the postseason, the expectations are still sky high for Maryland.
1. Baylor (Last Week, 1)
Baylor continues to shut down top-tier talent, as they held All-American point guard Angel Goodrich to only 2 points in an 85-46 rout. Brittney Griner continues to make her mark as one of the all-time greats in women’s college basketball by moving into 10th all-time on the Division I scoring list last game with a 26-point effort.
2. UConn (Last Week, 2)
The Huskies pulled out a tough victory against St. John’s but at a high cost, as point guard Brianna Banks is out for the season with a torn ACL. The sophomore point guard was averaging 7.3 points in 17 minutes of play this year. The injury will mean a boost in minutes most likely for freshmen point guard Moriah Jefferson. Look for UConn to workout the kinks in the new rotation before a big late-season matchup against Baylor soon.
3. Notre Dame (Last Week, 3)
I don’t know which thing made coach Muffet McGraw happier: remaining undefeated in conference play, or winning her 700th game. Either way, it was a good day for the Irish faithful as they beat Villanova 59-52. “You know, I feel so blessed, I’m so incredibly lucky to be coaching at Notre Dame and to be surrounded by such class people, all of the players who have come through the last 25 years, the administration, all of the assistant coaches, everyone at Notre Dame has treated me so well,” said coach McGraw. Natalie Achonwa continues to be a beast on the block, with a 19-point, 11-rebound effort against the Wildcats.
4. Duke (Last Week, 4)
Duke needed to add a ranked win to their resume, and they got it in a big way dominating North Carolina in an 84-63 victory. Despite a 21-point victory, the final box score doesn’t show how ferocious the Blue Devils were. Before calling off the dogs at half, Duke was up 50-19 at half. Sophomore center Liz Williams was a steady force down low for the Blue Devils with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Chloe Wells posted a career high 18 points while draining six of seven threes in the contest.
5. Stanford (Last Week, 6)
Chiney Ogwumike posted her sixth straight double-double against Oregon State in a 65-46 road victory. Ogwumike was unstoppable down low with a career-high 32 points and 18 rebounds against the Beavers. Outside of Chiney, only two other Cardinal players graced double figures in the contest. Stanford, in order to avoid upsets, will need to find ways to get the role players more involved offensively.
6. California (Last Week, 8 )
The Golden Bears have been building momentum beating their past three opponents by an average over 20 points. The defense has played a major role in their current success. California may have only shot 40 percent against Oregon, but they held the Ducks to only 26 percent in the game as well. “I think this game looks the way it looks on the scoreboard because of the intensity and focus our players played with,” said Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb. California remains tied for the top spot in the Pac-12 with Stanford.
7. Kentucky (Last Week, 5)
Kentucky stumbled in the second half against Georgia, as the Bulldogs pulled off the upset 75-71. The Wildcats were up 40-30 at half, but a huge factor in the game was shooting under 70 percent from the free-throw line at home. The seven missed free throws were a difference in the contest. Kentucky was still relentless on defense, forcing 26 turnovers, but couldn’t turn those turnovers into easy lay-ups in the second half. Kentucky will look to rebound next game against Arkansas.
8. Maryland (Last Week, 10)
Tianna Hawkins has been sensational this year for Maryland. Hawkins continued to shine bright against Boston College with 26 points and 6 rebounds in the 85-62 victory. Alyssa Thomas continues to showcase her versatile skill set with a chunky stat line of 24 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks in the game. The Terps are playing their best ball of the season heading into their biggest matchup of the year against ACC rival Duke this upcoming week.
9. Penn State (Last Week, 8)
The Nittany Lions won a tough in-conference battle against Purdue, 69-61. Maggie “Machine Gun” Lucas led the way with 17 points and 6 rebounds for Penn State. The Lions needed this victory against a ranked opponent after losing a big upset against Wisconsin the previous contest 63-61. Penn State will look to continue to build upon last games success next game against Indiana.
10. Louisville (Last Week, NR)
Louisville was locked in on defense with a solid victory against Georgetown, 74-60. Against the nation’s leading scorer Sugar Rodgers, the Cardinal were able to hold her 2-17 shooting in the game. Antonita Slaughter led the way for Louisville with 22 points and 7 rebounds.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Maggie Lucas, Penn State, guard
Penn State was able to pull off their biggest victory of the year against Purdue, and Maggie Lucas was a huge X-factor in the contest. Lucas scored 17 points, but she showed a willingness to mix it up in the paint with 6 rebounds.
Elena Delle Donne, Delaware, forward
Delle Donne is back and the floor and has been a superstar for Delaware in conference play. Against Hofstra, Elena dropped 35 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the Bob Carpenter Center. In the previous game against Georgia St., Delle Donne had 19 of her 25 at half, two less than the whole Georgia State team.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Maryland vs Duke
Maryland has been one of the most impressive teams in all of college basketball this year. It is amazing how solid they have been despite losing both backcourt players early in the season. In the next game against Duke, with a victory they have a chance to sit atop the ACC, quite an accomplishment. Duke will look to use their depth to their advantage against the Terps. This game will showcase a great battle between Maryland forward Tianna Hawkins and Duke center Liz Williams.