No. 14 Maryland women’s basketball will play its home opener against Towson Thursday. This matchup will be the first of three nonconference the games Terps will host at Xfinity Center.
To open its season, Maryland played in the Gulf Coast Showcase, taking wins over Davidson and then-No. 14 Arkansas. Against the Razorbacks, Maryland had a record breaking performance with an 115-96 win. However, the day prior, the Terps fell to a ranked Missouri State, resulting in their drop in the rankings as well as a 2-1 start.
“You have a roster that is really learning to play together and get these kind of minutes under their belt,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “There’s just not that experience when you talk about what we lost and what we graduated last year, so it is a combination that will take time to develop while we are on the court.”
The Terps have shown they have incredible depth. Starters Katie Benzan, Angel Reese, Diamond Miller, Ashley Owusu and Chloe Bibby each averaged double-digit points through the first three games.
Additionally, every healthy player on the roster has gotten into the game and scored a basket. Frese’s team still experiences foul trouble, however, the group still has time to improve that before conference play.
“When you look at the last game, you see the potential we have on this team, no doubt,” Frese said. “You can see from the first two games just that it’s going to take time obviously to develop our chemistry.”
Maryland last played Towson in 2016 in College Park. The Terps came out on top in that matchup, winning 91-63. Overall against the Tigers, Maryland is 6-1; the last time Towson won was in December of 2009.
Towson Tigers (2-0, 0-0 CAA)
2019-20 record: 14-15 (9-9 CAA)
Head coach Diane Richardson is in her fourth season as the leader of the Tigers after serving as a head coach and an assistant coach at a number of colleges, including Maryland during the 2006-07 season. In her first three seasons coaching the Tigers, Richardson has amassed a 43-49 record.
During the 2018-19 season, Richardson led the Tigers to their first program Colonial Athletic Association Championship and their first NCAA Tournament berth.
Towson started off this season by winning their first two games over East Carolina and La Salle. Against La Salle, the Tigers put up 95 points and won by a 29-point margin. Towson was also supposed to play Howard University, however that game was canceled.
Players to know
Kionna Jeter, redshirt senior guard, 5’8, No. 21 - Jeter recorded her first double-double of the season against East Carolina with 27 points and 12 boards. This performance earned her the honor of CAA Player of the Week.
Prior to playing at Towson, Jeter attended Gulf Coast State College, where over the course of 20 games she averaged 19.8 points, six rebounds and 2.1 assists. She has racked up a number of honors over her last two years with the Tigers, including All-CAA First Team and CAA All-Defensive Team for the 2019-20 season.
Shavonne Smith, junior guard, 5’11, No. 23 - In the first two games as a starter this season, Smith has dropped double-digit points. Against East Carolina, Smith put up 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. On the road against La Salle, she led the team with a career-high 19 points.
Aleah Nelson, sophomore guard, 5’6, No. 4 - As a freshman, Nelson played at Cincinnati and shot 42.9% from beyond the arc. Although her season-best scoring display at Cincinnati was six points, Nelson had double-digit performances in the first two games this season. The Baltimore native put up 13 points in the first game and recorded a double-double against La Salle with 12 points and 10 assists.
Depth. In their game against La Salle, five Tigers scored in double-digits, with two players recording double-doubles. Against East Carolina, three players scored in double-digits and all 11 players got in the game and scored at least two points. Maryland has incredible depth, with all five starters scoring double-digits against ranked Arkansas and every player on the roster also scoring at least two points. This should make for an exciting offensive matchup.
Turnovers. Towson currently averages 19.5 turnovers a game, which could prove to be trouble against Maryland’s defense. Over their first three games, the Terps averaged have 7.7 steals and 15.0 points off turnovers per game.
Three things to watch
1. Will Maryland continue to build on its momentum from deep? Against Arkansas, Maryland sank 51.6% of its three-point attempts. The senior duo of transfers, guard Katie Benzan and forward Chloe Bibby, made up 81% of those successful shots. Freshman forward Angel Reese is also looking to increase her percentage from outside the paint.
“I’m just trying to get comfortable shooting the mid-range shots, shooting threes too, that’s really what I am working to have by the end of my freshman year,” Reese said.
Three other players recorded triples in their last game as well, so it will be interesting to watch how Towson defends the three.
2. Will Maryland come out strong? Following their loss against ranked Missouri State, the Terps came out fierce and started the game strong. However, against an unranked Davidson team, although they maintained a lead, Maryland allowed its opponent to come close to taking it away in the first half. Towson scored 29 points off fast breaks in its performance against East Carolina, so the Terps can’t afford to come out of the gate slow.
“Something I learned about this team is that we hate to lose and we are not just going to sulk about,” said sophomore guard Ashley Owusu. “We lost that Missouri State game, but we came back against Arkansas and played our game and came out with the win.”
3. Can the Terps improve their foul troubles? In all three games the Terps have played, they have had multiple key players in foul trouble. Even in their dominant win against Arkansas, freshman forward Angel Reese fouled out in the final seconds of the game. In three games, Maryland had 75 personal fouls. Head Coach Frese mentioned this as something the Terps are tightening up in practice.
“For us it’s just doing a better job of trying to adapt to the different officiating styles that are out there,” said Frese. “And then I think we are picking up a lot of things with our hands instead of moving our feet and being in an active defensive stance.