Just days before they’re slated to take on the No. 2 Connecticut Huskies, No. 10/11 Maryland learned they'll spend the remainder of the season without their second-leading scorer, and starting point guard, 6-0 junior Laurin Mincy, who suffered an ACL tear to her right knee on Wednesday. Mincy, a preseason All-ACC Team selection, had also been named to the preseason Wooden and Naismith watch lists.
The starting junior went down five minutes into the second half of Wednesday's 90-71 win at No. 19 Nebraska – ironically, the final appearance as an ACC representative in the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge for the Terps who are slated to switch the to Big Ten next season. Mincy was helped off the court – though not before contributing 16 points including four treys, to go with two assists and two steals to that victory.
It's the second ACL injury for Mincy who suffered the same injury in her left knee during the summer following her junior year in high school, forcing her to miss her senior season at New Jersey's University High School. Despite the injury, Mincy's body of work at the prep level was strong enough to be named a McDonald's All-American.
Mincy is the third Terrapin player now sidelined for the season by the injury, sophomore Brene Moseley had been expected to step into the starting role at the point, until she was lost for the season after tearing the ACL in her left knee on Oct. 21 in a preseason scrimmage. Also down for the count this year is senior center Essence Townsend, a reserve who blew out her left ACL after putting in less than five minutes in Maryland's 84-46 exhibition rout of Goldey-Beacon on Nov. 5.
With the top two point options both gone, Frese's backcourt is now in the hands of talented, but still raw, freshman combo guard Chloe Pavlech, who has two starts in the Terps' five games to date, averaging just 3.8 points but handing out 3.4 assists in 21.2 minutes per appearance. Pavlech has not pulled the trigger often, but is an efficient scorer when she does, averaging 50 percent (seven of 14) from the floor and 37.5 percent (three-of-eight) from the arc.
That's not bad for a collegiate newcomer, but isn't much of a match for Connecticut's Bria Hartley waiting just around the corner in Monday's Jimmy V Classic at UConn's home-away-from home in Hartford's XL Center. Hartley, a 5-7 junior who was named a 2012 WBCA All-American and Big East Freshman of the Year last season, is arguably one of the best point guards in the country. Hartley, though, has had her own struggles with injuries this year, missing a month of practice and the first two games of the season due to an injury to her left ankle. Returning to the starting rotation for the first time this season in the Huskies' 101-41 romp over Colgate on Wednesday, Hartley put up just eight points on three-of-nine (33.3 percent) from the field, but handed out four assists (to only one turnover) in her 23 minutes on the floor. That's well off her freshman average 14 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Still, Hartley is obviously on the mend and will have had five more days to heal and improve by Monday's nationally televised showdown with the Terrapins (by which point, the Huskies should have their second-leading scorer, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who missed the Colgate rout due to a concussion, back in uniform).
Maryland's bench has now been shortened to just three players and Frese is likely to turn to 5-8 Katie Rutan, a redshirt junior enjoying her first year of restored eligibility after transferring from Xavier. Rutan, who had been sharing starts at the two position with Pavlech before the loss of Mincy, is Maryland's designated sharpshooter, having averaged 7.2 points per game on 41.9 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from the perimeter. Rutan has also been contributing 3.8 boards and 2.4 assists per game.
But that leaves Frese likely to be lighting candles to St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, with just one guard left on the roster to spell Pavlech and Rutan -- Sequoia Austin, a 5-5 junior who walked on to the team as a freshman and has average a little more than four minutes in the 35 games in which she has appeared in the three years since then.
ACL tears have become so de rigueur in women’s sport –and particularly, in basketball, the most ACL-injury-prone sport for women, where, at the college level, female athletes are likely to suffer ACL tears 3.63 times more frequently than their male counterparts – the announcement of another three players lost to the painful injury is hardly enough to provoke a yawn. But consider that three players (including the two starting guards) out of Maryland’s roster of 11 players, represents a loss of more than 27 percent of the total depth chart, 40 percent of its starting rotation and 100 percent of the starting backcourt at a program deemed capable of contending for a national championship when the season began, to this single injury. In other words, far from being hyperbole, Maryland women’s basketball has been more than decimated by ACL injuries.
No. 17/15 St. John’s to Face No. 4 Duke and Remainder of Season Without McPherson
In the same week No. 17/15 St. John senior sensation Shenneika Smith was named Big East Player of the week after averaging 21 points and 9.5 boards per game last week in a pair of double-digit wins over Iona (71-55) and at Hofstra (66-54), the Red Storm got the bad news that senior guard Eugeneia McPherson was done for the season. McPherson, the team announced Friday, will be out for the season after tearing the ACL in her right knee early in last Sunday’s second-half action against the Hawks. Surgery is contemplated but has not yet been scheduled.
St. John's returned four of its five starters from a 2012 campaign that was highlighted by an upset of UConn; three of the four, including McPherson, averaged double-digits (11.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and nearly two assists per game). McPherson has not yet decided whether she will seek a fifth year of collegiate eligibility under NCAA hardship rules.
The Storm, currently 5-1, suffered their only loss to Texas on Nov. 9. Their next game, slated for Saturday, Dec. 1, at Boston University, should be a "gimme," but coming up next week if the Maggie Dixon Classic in Madison Square Garden where St. John's will face No. 4 and undefeated Duke.