Maryland women’s basketball returns to the court Thursday against Niagara.
The Terps are coming off a 94-86 loss to No. 4 South Carolina, falling short of pulling off an epic comeback. Maryland trailed 71-45 with 2:20 to go in the third quarter, and a Channise Lewis layup cut the lead to three with under a minute to go. On the Gamecocks next possession, Tyasha Harris converted an and-one to put the game out of reach.
The Purple Eagles shouldn’t present as much of a challenge. They’ve dropped games to St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s to start the season, and since taking a 35-24 halftime lead against the Bonnies have been outscored 145-82 over the next six quarters.
Maryland will be the best team they face this season. The Terps won, 96-64, at Niagara last year, but no current Maryland player scored more than nine points in the victory.
It’s Field Trip Day at Xfinity Center, so tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. The game will be streamed on BTN Plus.
Niagara Purple Eagles (0-2)
2016-17 record: 8-22, 5-15 MAAC
Head coach Jada Pierce has a 16-47 record in three seasons at Niagara. Before coming to Niagara, she spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s. She’s also been an assistant coach at Army, Mount Saint Mary’s, UMass, Marist, UMass-Lowell and Delaware.
This is Pierce’s second head coaching stint, as she was previously the head coach at Division II Cheyney University for two seasons from 2004-2006.
Players to know
Victoria Rampado, redshirt senior, forward, 6’2, No. 22. Rampado has averaged 12.5 points and a team-leading nine rebounds per game so far in 2017. She was a second team all-MAAC selection, and led the conference in scoring with 16.8 points per game and was fourth with 7.8 rebounds per game. Rampado led Niagara with 24 points on an inefficient 6-of-17 shooting against Maryland last year.
Kaylee Stroemple, senior, forward, 5’11, No. 44. Stroemple leads the Purple Eagles in scoring with 14.5 points per game, and is second in rebounding with 7.5 rebounds per game. She averaged 13 points and six rebounds per game last year.
The Purple Eagles’ offense has run through Rampado and Stroemple in their first two games. The duo has combined to take almost 48 percent of Niagara’s shots in the early going.
Getting to the foul line. Niagara has already gotten to the foul line 43 times this season, which is 64th in Division I. The Purple Eagles haven’t faced a team as good as Maryland yet, so they probably won’t be able to get to the foul line.
Defense. Niagara’s defense has been terrible this season. Opponents have shot 56.4 percent against the Purple Eagles so far, which is 335th in Division I. Niagara starts just one player over 6’0, which won’t help even though Maryland is undersized compared to recent years. If the Terps can get off to a fast start, they may hit the century mark.
Maryland wins, 91-57.