LINCOLN — Don't make out Wednesday's tilt with No. 11 Maryland to be too daunting for the Nebraska women's basketball team.
Since coach Connie Yori's arrival in 2002, the Huskers have beaten 25 teams in the AP Top 25 — including six in the top 10. So No. 21 Nebraska (5-1) has faced and slain giants before.
“We can't be shy,” senior guard Lindsey Moore said. “We can't be intimidated.”
The Terrapins (3-1), Nebraska's opponent for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, certainly fit the bill of intimidating. Their starting frontcourt trio stands 6-foot-4, 6-3 and 6-2, averaging a combined 43 points and 25.8 rebounds. And they're outrebounding opponents by a 50-22 per-game margin.
The Huskers' tallest player is 6-3 reserve center Adri Maurer, who's played spot minutes so far.
“It's going to be like the land of the munchkins out there for the Huskers compared to what we're going to see in Maryland,” Yori quipped in her press conference Monday.
Nebraska will counter with speed and its trademark defensive pressure that's forcing nearly 19 turnovers per game. Injuries have left Maryland with only nine active players, and Moore said NU hopes its wave of smaller, active guards can test the Terrapins' depth.
NU will try, as it always does, to deny passes to the paint and force Maryland's guards to dribble around hedges, traps and other defensive potholes. In its 50-49 loss at St. Joseph's, Maryland played only three guards, with starters Laurin Mincy and Katie Rutan each logging 36 minutes. The Terps committed 19 turnovers that night and made only 21 percent of their shots in the second half.
“We are who we are,” Yori said. “We're not necessarily going to change our style overnight. I don't think that's wise. We're not all of the sudden going to go to a 2-3 zone. We're going to have to do what we've done — and just try to do it better.”
Yori hopes Wednesday is the night after recent progress.
After a loss at South Dakota State and a sloppy win over Sam Houston State, the Huskers played “clearly our best game,” Yori said, in a 74-65 win at USC. NU played from behind for most of the contest until Moore, with a flurry of plays that became familiar to fans last year, sparked a comeback. Moore scored 17 points in the final 6:06 of the game, finishing with 23 overall.
“I was just looking to be aggressive and read the defense,” Moore said. “When I'd drive in there, not a lot of people were coming up to stop me, so I just kept it.”
Maryland, giving up just 49 points per game, isn't likely to be quite as inviting. The Terps, who finished 31-5 last year and won the ACC tournament, have three national player of the year candidates, including Tianna Hawkins, a 6-3 senior who's averaging 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
“We'd better bring our big-girl shorts,” Yori said.
NOTES: Moore, Jordan Hooper, Emily Cady and Hailie Sample are set for their 40th straight start together. ... Nebraska and Maryland have never met in the regular season, but the Terrapins beat the Huskers in the second round of the 2008 NCAA tournament. ... The Terrapins will join the Big Ten for the 2014-15 basketball season. ... Yori said she hoped for a big crowd at the Devaney Center, which has been a key home-court advantage for the team.
Contact the writer:
402-202-9766, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/swmckewonOWH