In a tilt with two top-10 foes, Duke will play host to Maryland at Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight in the first of the two teams’ remaining matchups this season.
The No. 5 Blue Devils (21-1, 11-0 ACC) will look to continue their undefeated streak in the ACC by winning the battle in the paint with the Terrapins.
“[Maryland] is the best rebounding team in the country,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “You have to give them credit for going to the boards hard and being aggressive. It’s a great opportunity for us to put bodies on people and play a contact game.”
The No. 7 Terrapins (19-3, 10-1) have the second-highest rebounding margin in the nation, pulling down 17.1 more boards on average than their opponents.
A trio of inside players anchors Maryland’s post play, which is led by junior forward Alyssa Thomas, who averages 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Senior forward Tiana Hawkins leads the Terrapins in scoring with 19.6 points per game, while also hauling in an average of 9.9 boards. Junior center Alicia DeVaughn rounds out Maryland’s powerful trio, averaging 8.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
“Hopefully we can slow them down,” McCallie said. “They are great players. Hawkins is one of the most improved players in the league. You try to slow them down, but you can’t stop them.”
If the Blue Devils want to continue their 11--0 start to conference play, they will need a big game from sophomore center Elizabeth Williams and junior forward Haley Peters. Williams and Peters have averaged a combined 14.0 rebounds per game this year, and Williams leads Duke in scoring with 14.9 points per game. Duke was outrebounded by Virginia 42-32 Friday.
“For [Elizabeth] and I, especially after last game, you couldn’t ask for a better team to play against,” Peters said. “With our rebounding last game, it’s really the perfect game for us to play and see if we can get back on track and start to be more consistent.”
To go along with the physical inside play of Peters and Williams, the Blue Devils will rely on their trio of perimeter threats: Chloe Wells, Tricia Liston and Chelsea Gray. All three are shooting above 40 percent from behind the arc.
Liston has knocked down 46 3-pointers on the year and ranks second in the nation in 3-point percentage. Peters can also step back and knock down shots from behind the arc, shooting at a 47.1-percent clip this year.
“A full 40 minutes of aggression and intensity—that’s what I would like to see, that immediate, intense, and intelligent basketball,” McCallie said. “I think we have great potential to play a whole lot better than we’re playing if we can get our aggression and intensity up, play the boards a little more and rebound and mix it up a little more. Add to that being intense and smart with the basketball, and I think we’ll be in good shape.”
For Duke, the home court advantage of Cameron Indoor Stadium will also be important. All three of Maryland’s losses this year have been away from College Park, and the Blue Devils have not lost a home game against an ACC opponent since 2008. That loss, though, came at the hands of the Terrapins.