GREENVILLE, S.C. — This is why Abby Meyers came to the University of Maryland.
Of course, it was a chance for the Potomac native to return closer to home after spending five years at Princeton, where she became the Ivy League Player of the Year last season. But more than just coming back to a familiar geographical area where she could play in front of family and friends, Meyers wanted to be part of a program that had the chance to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
She had played in March Madness before with the Tigers, but never made it past the second round.
And now, here Meyers is with the Terps, soaking it all in at Bon Secours Wellness Arena as No. 2 Maryland prepares to face No. 3 Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET in upstate South Carolina.
“To make it to the Sweet 16 alongside these talented women is super, super special,” Meyers said Friday. “It’s gratifying, but at the end of the day we’re not done. We’re not finished.”
Meyers didn’t simply hitch a ride with Maryland to the regional semifinals; she put gas in the tank and helped steer the Terps’ high-powered offense that is ninth in the nation in scoring and 14th in assist-turnover ratio with a 1.26 mark.
Under the direction of longtime head coach Brenda Frese, Maryland plays a fast and furious style that is entertaining. The Terps rank 19th nationally in pace, averaging 75.6 possessions per 40 minutes.
For Meyers, adjusting to that offense was the biggest hurdle for her at first, as she was one of nine new players added to Maryland’s roster in the offseason. At Princeton, the Walt Whitman High School product played in more of a half-court set that was slower, structured and ate up the shot clock. Princeton ranked 248th in pace last season.
“They play really fast, and I wasn’t used to that at all,” Meyers said. “I think it just took time. I wanted them to learn my game, and over time we did mesh. But I would be lying to say it was easy at first. We’d get frustrated sometimes because we’re trying to figure each other out. Where do you like this pass? If you’re cutting, what do you like? What’s your look?”
It didn’t take too long for Meyers to make an impact though. In the second game of the season — a loss to mighty No. 1 South Carolina — Meyers tallied 21 points and six rebounds. In a Nov. 20 win at Baylor, she notched her first double-double as a Terp with 13 points and 10 boards.
In Maryland’s free-flowing offense, Meyers has turned into a bit of a do-it-all stat-sheet-stuffer. Last month, in a win over Illinois, she racked up 18 points, four rebounds, four steals, two assists and a block.
Meyers is the only Terrapin who plays more than 30 minutes per game, a figure that shows how much Frese trusts and relies on the versatile veteran. Meyers is second on the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game, and is also second in rebounding, steals and 3-pointers made.
“To gain that experience and that leadership has been huge. She’s another dynamic scorer for us, so it takes some of that pressure off of Diamond (Miller) to have more scorers,” Frese said of Meyers. “But her game defensively has really grown. She’s understanding shot selection, being efficient, and rebounding the basketball. So, all the intangibles, as well, that we really need.”
Maryland’s matchup with Notre Dame in Greenville, South Carolina is a rematch from a Dec. 1 non-conference clash. The Terps beat the Irish in South Bend, Indiana, 74-72, thanks to a buzzer-beating mid-range jumper from Miller. Meyers had six points, four rebounds and three assists.
The teams look a bit different now. Maryland has grown, built more chemistry and settled into an identity. Notre Dame won the Atlantic Coast Conference’s regular season title, but have lost two starters — guards Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey — to season-ending injuries since it last faced Maryland.
“I love rematches,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “It helps to know my style of play versus Maryland. We have a feel for what they do. We have a feel for their personnel.”
While Ivey and the Irish know Maryland better with hindsight and the passing of time, so does Meyers.
“We know each other’s strengths, we know each other’s weaknesses, we have each other’s back,” Meyers said. “I think it’s a good story to tell of just trusting the process and trusting each other.”
Mitchell Northam is a journalist based in North Carolina. His work has appeared in USA TODAY, Sports Illustrated and SB Nation, and he is the author of the book “High School Basketball on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: A Shore Hoops History.”