ND Women’s Basketball
Notre Dame, Maryland ready for Final Four rematch
Renee Griffin | Tuesday, December 2, 2014
No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 15 Maryland square off in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Wednesday at 7 p.m., marking the second game against a ranked opponent for the Irish this season.
The game is a rematch of last year’s Final Four meeting, in which the Irish (7-0) earned a 87-61 victory over the Terrapins (6-1) to end their tournament run.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said the game, part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, will give good insight into the untried and undefeated Irish and that the team is well-prepared for the quality opponent.
“We’re absolutely ready,” McGraw said. “We’ve had some relatively easy games over the past week, and I think we’re anxious to find out really where we are. We haven’t learned enough about ourselves — winning by 30, you don’t really get to learn that much. It’ll be good to be tested and see where we need to get the work in to get ready for the conference season.”McGraw said there are a number of similarities between Maryland and Notre Dame, especially in their balanced approach and depth on the bench.
“Both teams have a lot of balance,” McGraw said. “[Maryland] in particular, really anybody can have a big night for them. They’ve all taken turns getting a 20-point effort, and I think four of their starters are in double figures, so I think [there is] really good balance on their team. It’s going to be a really tough matchup for us. They play a lot of people, we play a lot of people, so there are a lot of similarities between the teams.”
McGraw pointed to the guard play and post play as strengths of the Maryland team that will create several competitive individual matchups.
“I think the big matchups are going to be [Notre Dame junior guard] Jewell [Loyd] against [Maryland redshirt senior guard] Laurin Mincy and [Irish sophomore guard] Lindsay [Allen] against [Terrapins sophomore guard] Lexie Brown,” McGraw said. “And then we have the inside matchup between [Maryland sophomore center] Brionna Jones and [Irish sophomore forward] Taya [Reimer] or [freshman forward] Brianna Turner, so really it’s difficult. I don’t think we win any of the matchups on paper; I think they’re all going to be really, really tough.”The problems posed by Maryland keep the Irish from looking ahead to a game against No. 3 Connecticut on Saturday, McGraw said.
“We’re really focused on this Maryland game,” McGraw said. “It’s a big rivalry for us, especially for Lindsay Allen, who’s from Maryland. You know, we played them twice — we played them in the Final Four and had a big game at their place. I think this would’ve been a great ACC rivalry, so it’s a shame they left the league.”
McGraw emphasized the opportunity for improvement the game against the Terrapins offers her team.
“Living out here in Big Ten country, we get to play a lot of the Big Ten teams,” she said. “We feel like we’re always measuring ourselves against them. It’s interesting that we’re paired with Maryland again; I think we’re starting to have a really good rivalry with them. It’s going to be a great game for the challenge.”
McGraw said the neutral site in Fort Wayne should provide a fun atmosphere for the players.
“We’re excited about going to Fort Wayne because I’ve heard so many great things about the venue and the crowds,” McGraw said. “We’re taking buses over there, and I’m sure there are a lot of people in Fort Wayne who are excited to see us play, so it’s a great opportunity for us. We’d rather have home court advantage, but that’s the next best thing.”
The Irish take on the Terrapins at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana.