After a convincing beatdown of then-No. 10 South Carolina on Sunday night in front of a national audience, the Maryland women’s basketball team earned a No. 7 ranking in the new Associated Press poll that came out on Monday afternoon.
For Thanksgiving, the Terrapins took a flight to San Juan to compete in the 2018 Puerto Rico Clasico, which began play on Nov. 16 and will continue until Dec. 20, although this round-robin only lasts three days.
On Friday at noon, the Terps will face the Morgan State Bears of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and they’ll follow that up with a battle against Georgia, which was ranked No. 14 just last week, on Saturday at noon as well.
Both games will be streamed through FloHoops, and fans can sign up for access here.
Morgan State Bears (1-4)
The Bears are led by head coach Edward Davis Jr., who is in the midst of his third season in charge of the program after being named the interim head coach in the summer of 2016. The team had just a 9-21 record in his debut season, but he seemingly did enough to earn the job full-time. Last season, he led the Bears to a much-improved 16-15 record, and the program appears to be on an upward trajectory. Before being installed as head coach, Davis spent four seasons as an assistant in Baltimore following 12 years as the leader at Delaware State.
It’s been a challenging beginning to the 2018-19 season for the Bears, but that’s to be expected. They graduated five seniors, including the team’s three leading scorers. In total, Morgan State lost 63.9 percent of its offensive production, forcing this season to be more of a transition year.
But there’s still talent on the roster. Adre’onia Coleman, the leading scorer among returning players, has nearly doubled her prior point total from a year ago. The senior has averaged a healthy 17.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in five games thus far, and her final season is shaping up to be the best of her career. Jihaya Chavis has also been vital thus far for Morgan State, serving as the team’s main facilitator on offense. She not only leads the team in assists, but she also averages 8.0 points per game, fourth on the squad.
The Bears have been pretty successful on defense so far, and that’s the reason the season hasn’t gotten too far away from them just yet. Morgan State allows just 60.8 points per game to its opposition, good for fourth in the conference. However, outside of Coleman, the Bears have been starved offensively. They are averaging a lowly 52.8 points per outing, which ranks 325th in the nation out of 349 Division I teams.
Georgia Bulldogs (2-2)
For the fourth year in a row, Georgia will be led by Joni Taylor, who is just the second head coach in program history. She’s seen immediate success in Athens, compiling a 65-34 record in three-plus seasons, including an impressive 21-10 record in her rookie year. Last season, Taylor led the Bulldogs to a 26-win campaign, eventually losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Duke.
Unlike Maryland’s first opponent, the Bulldogs barely lost any production from last season. Mackenzie Engram, the team’s co-leading scorer with 12.9 points per game, did graduate, but six of the top seven players on offense are back and better than ever. In total, 67.4 percent of the offense has returned.
So far this season, Georgia is led by a trio of scorers who are all averaging double-digit scoring. Redshirt junior Taja Cole has paced the squad thus far with her 14.0 points per game, a stark increase compared to her 7.8 figure from a year ago. Cole is joined at the top of the scoring charts by Gabby Connally and Caliya Robinson, who average 11.5 and 11.3 points, respectively.
The Bulldogs have been successful on the glass this season, indicative of the team’s abundance of height. They currently rank third in the SEC with 44.75 rebounds per game, which is good for 52nd in the nation. Of course, the Terrapins are as elite at this, as they come in rebounding, leading the nation with 53.75 boards per outing.
Georgia hasn’t been terrible offensively, as it averages 68.5 points per game. That places the Bulldogs ninth in the conference, although they rank in the top half of the country. However, their scoring output would be much improved if they could hit free throws at a somewhat competent rate. In four games so far this season, Georgia has hit just 25 of its 55 attempts from the charity stripe, which equates to a 347th-best .455 percentage.
After transferring from Maryland to Georgia last offseason, former top-20 recruit Jenna Staiti took a redshirt year. She made her Bulldogs debut on Nov. , and she’s been effective in a limited role thus far. In 11.5 minutes per game, the 6’6 center has averaged 6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.25 blocks.