The best women’s basketball team to enter the Devaney Sports Center in three years, No. 11-ranked Maryland, would scare any opponent.
Maryland returns four starters from last year’s team that finished 31-5 and reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
The Terps count on preseason All-Americans 6-foot-3 Tianna Hawkins, 6-2 Alyssa Thomas and 6-0 guard Laurin Mincy to lead a team that carries a stunning plus-28 rebounding edge this season.
But No. 19 Nebraska has some answers, none more important than home-court advantage, Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. for the matchup with a future Big Ten foe.
The Huskers have 25 victories over Top 25 teams in the 11 seasons under coach Connie Yori. NU posted five wins over Top 25 teams last year and eight wins over ranked teams in 2009-10.
“They’re big, athletic, Hawkins plays like she’s 6-7, and they are big at guard,” said Yori. “But, bottom line, we need fans. This is a good game and we better wear our big-girl shorts, and we could use some fans.
“We have one of the best fan bases around. We count the fans in the stands, not inflated like some people do and we’re in the top 10 in attendance. That’s where it starts for us.”
“We have to be aggressive and we can’t play intimidated,” said Husker senior guard Lindsey Moore. “We have the crowd that helps create energy, and we know that we can play with anybody with a crowd behind us.
“They (Maryland) are a big team and we might not be the biggest team around, but our veterans know how to win against ranked teams and our younger players can play,” Moore said.
“I hope our speed and our depth can hurt them, you know, pressure them and maybe they’ll get tired.”
Nebraska turned a corner of sorts last Saturday when Moore scored 17 points in the final six minutes — eight in the final 39 seconds — to lift NU over USC in Los Angeles. “That should be a boost in our confidence that we can win on the road,” said Moore, a preseason All-American candidate. “We can create the energy we need to get through a game like that. We executed down the stretch.”
Moore, who has led NU to some of its best wins in the last three seasons, said she enjoys taking control of a game.
“I’m glad I have the confidence of our team and our coaches, and I really don’t think about it, I just try to stay aggressive and do what I can” she said. “I don’t think about the stats until the game is over. When I saw I had 15 free throws, I was stunned. But that’s what you get if your keep aggressive.”
Yori smiled and said, “Lindsey does what Lindsey does. Big plays down the stretch are something we can expect from her. We just hadn’t needed her to do that yet.”