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Maryland women's basketball preview: Terps open season against UMass Lowell

The No. 6 Maryland women's basketball team opens their 2015-2016 campaign at home against the River Hawks.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, Maryland men’s basketball opened the season with an 80-56 win over Mount St. Mary’s. This afternoon, the Maryland women's basketball team will take the floor for the first time. The No. 6 ranked Terps will square off against the UMass Lowell River Hawks at 2:00 at the Xfinity Center. For those who can’t make it, the game can be streamed on BTN2Go.

The River Hawks are coming off a 14-15 season under head coach Jenerrie Harris, but their top two scorers, guards Shannon Samuels and Jasmine McRoy, graduated after the season. This year’s team is projected to finish 7th in the 9-team America East conference, which was won last year by Albany.

Suffice to say, they shouldn’t pose any sort of threat to Maryland. The Terps look to begin their journey to Indianapolis for their third-straight Final Four today. This year's team is ranked No. 6 in the Coaches’ Poll and No. 9 in the AP poll, and boasts a deep rotation that should be on full display today. From five-star freshmen forwards Kiah Gillespie and Brianna Fraser to junior scorers Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones to senior leaders Brene Moseley and Malina Howard, this should be a fun team to watch over the next four months.

UMass Lowell River Hawks (0-0)

The coach

Jenerrie Harris: Starting her second season in Lowell. Last year’s 14 wins were the most by a first-year head coach in program history. Harris was hired away from Navy, where she spent five years on the staff and helped the team reach three NCAA tournaments.

Players to know

Lindsey Doucette, senior, forward, 6’3. Led the squad last year in rebounds, blocks and steals, and tops all returning scorers with 9.3 points per game. This year, she’ll probably average north of 15. She’ll receive most of the Terps’ attention in the post, and will likely be double-teamed a lot.

Melissa Frase, senior, guard, 5'7. Like Doucette, started all 29 games last season. While she couldn’t crack 6 points a game, she was second on the team in assists (2.2 apg). She’ll be the River Hawks’ primary ballhandler with Samuels gone.

Strength

Shooting. The River Hawks shot a conference-best 33.2% from downtown last year, and their 72% rate from the foul line was second to Binghamton by a hair. However, Samuels and McRoy accounted for much of that production. The onus will mostly be on Frase, who jacked up 129 threes last year but hit only 37 (28.7%), to improve on her accuracy.

Weakness

Defense. Last year’s team also allowed 69.7 points per game, 7th in the conference. Now, it doesn’t help that they played Notre Dame and Duke on the road—those two powerhouses combined to rack up 200 points against the River Hawks. But the team was still a little undersized, as will be the case again this year.

Thomas’ Prediction: Maryland, 95-57.