The Maryland women’s basketball team will play South Carolina next season in College Park as part of a two-year home-and-home series with the recently crowned national champion, both schools announced Thursday.
The first game of the series is set for Nov. 13 at Xfinity Center, and the Terrapins will play at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C., in November 2018.
“This is a great series for our team and for our program,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “We want to play the best, and we want to give our fans the opportunity to watch the best basketball in the country.”
Maryland is coming off a season in which it finished 32-3, losing to Oregon, 77-63, in the NCAA tournament’s round of 16. Despite winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles for a third straight year, the Terrapins were a No. 3 seed in part because of a weaker schedule that included only one nonconference game against a national power.
Maryland lost that matchup to Connecticut, 87-81, at Xfinity Center.
South Carolina, meanwhile, claimed the first national championship in program history, beating upstart Mississippi State, 67-55, April 2 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Gamecocks became the first Southeastern Conference school other than Tennessee to win the national championship.
It also was the first NCAA title for South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley, who reached three straight Final Fours as a player at Virginia from 1990 through ’92. The Cavaliers lost to Tennessee in overtime, 70-67, in the 1991 national championship game.
Maryland has played South Carolina one time, winning, 74-60, in 1997.
The Terrapins’ starting lineup next season is set to look drastically different with the departures of seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones, both projected first-round picks in Thursday night’s WNBA draft, and the transfer of point guard Destiny Slocum, voted national freshman of the year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
South Carolina, meanwhile, must replace starters Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis, both of whom declared for the WNBA draft as juniors, as well as senior center Alaina Coates. The Gamecocks are expected to have back national player of the year candidate A’ja Wilson, a junior forward named Final Four most outstanding player.