By: Darren Zaslau
The Northwestern University women’s basketball team will host the 14th-ranked Maryland Terrapins on Thursday night at Evanston Township High School’s historic Beardsley Gym.
After defeating No. 12 Ohio State 99–69 Monday, the Terrapins (17–3 overall, 6–1 Big Ten) are currently in first place in the Big Ten and have now won 15 of their past 16 games. Northwestern (9–12 overall, 2–5 Big Ten) prepares to bounce back after falling at Wisconsin 58–46 Sunday.
With the opening tip-off set for 7 p.m. CT, here are three “Cs” to victory for the Wildcats.
Northwestern must find a way to take Maryland guard Kristen Confroy out of her rhythm from beyond the arc. This season, Confroy leads the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage at 46.7 percent, connecting on 50 of 107 shot attempts. During the 2015–2016 season, Confroy made 73 three-pointers to set a sophomore single-season program record. In their win over No. 12 Ohio State, the Terrapins made 11 of 18 shots from beyond the arc for a season-best 61 percent. Currently, Maryland’s 40.4 percent three-point field goal percentage leads the Big Ten.
Crashing the Boards
For the Wildcats to defeat Maryland, they must rebound effectively. The Terrapins lead the Big Ten with 16.6 offensive rebounds per game and rank fourth with 28.3 defensive rebounds per game. Northwestern will look to utilize Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah to help control the glass. The junior forward ranks second in the Big Ten with 11.1 total rebounds per game. Against Wisconsin Sunday, Kunaiyi-Akpanah recorded her team-leading 11th double-double this year, logging 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Controlling the Paint
Northwestern needs to take advantage of its high-percentage shots and closely defend Maryland near the basket. The Terrapins outscored the Buckeyes 46–30 in the paint Monday. Although the Wildcats were outscored in the paint by Wisconsin 34–30 Sunday, Abi Scheid was a key to Northwestern’s interior offense, leading the team in scoring with 17 points. Scheid made seven of 16 shots from the floor and hit two three-pointers in the game while Abbie Wolf added eight points.
Darren Zaslau and Austin Miller will have the call on 89.3 FM in the Evanston-Chicago area and online at wnursports.com.