No. 4 Maryland women’s basketball will head out west to Spokane, Washington to take on No. 1 Stanford, the defending National Champions in the Sweet 16.
“We’re going to have to come out against the defending national champions and put in a … complete 40 minute game to be able to advance in this tournament,” head coach Brenda Frese said.
The teams played each other in the Bahamas earlier in the season with the Cardinals dominating the Terps 86-68 on Nov. 27. In that game, the Terps were without guards Diamond Miller, Katie Benzan and forward Faith Masonius.
Almost four months removed from their ugly stay at the Bahamas, the Terps are an entirely different team. They’ve grown, become healthier and, more importantly, they’ve won plenty.
The Terps punched their ticket to Spokane with two dominant wins against No. 13 Delaware and No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast at the Xfinity Center last weekend, showing off their rejuvenated squad.
“A healthy Maryland is a scary Maryland,” forward Angel Reese said. “Being able to have such a tough schedule that we went through in the beginning … I think honestly prepared us for this moment.”
The Terps are averaging 95.9 points per game in the tournament, second highest in the field. After a rugged start to the season, the Terps are also receiving a much needed boost from a fully healthy Miller and her backcourt partner Ashley Owusu.
Both struggled with injuries this season but are now healthy and active. Miller and Owusu each scored 20 or more points in the Terps last two games. Their prowess comes in addition to Reese’s all-NCAA play.
In Reese’s last two games she has continued to play like she has all season long. Against Delaware Reese scored 15 points and collected nine rebounds and in the Terps second round game Reese scored 21 points and also had nine rebounds.
Like Maryland, the Cardinals also dominated their first two round opponents, crushing both No. 16 Montana State and No. 8 Kansas. Stanford’s seemingly unending depth was on display, too, as 12 players scored points against Kansas.
“Stanford plays perfect to flawless, so we have to be on our A-game and ready to go,” guard Shyanne Sellers said.
Cardinals guard Lexie Hull had a huge game last time out against the Jayhawks, scoring 36 points and collecting six rebounds and six steals.
Forward Cameron Brink averages 13 points a game and eight rebounds a game while guard Haley Jones averages 12 points a game. Jones is the PAC-12 Player of the Year among coaches and the reigning NCAA Tournament Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
“They have tremendous length,” Frese said. “We are not going to be able to out jump them. We are going to have to be really disciplined to box out.”
Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night and the game will be televised on ESPN. The winner of this game will take on the winner of No. 2 Texas and No. 6 Ohio State on Sunday in the Elite Eight. The Texas, Ohio State game tips off at 7 p.m. Friday.