After a nine-day hiatus, the Maryland No.9 women’s basketball returns to the court to face the Coppin State Eagles in an away game on Tuesday morning.
Maryland’s break was well-deserved after their valiant road effort against No.1 South Carolina on December 12. It was a brilliant defensive game plan from head coach Brenda Frese, who threw various zonal defensive looks at the Gamecocks throughout the game. The Terps kept South Carolina at their lowest point of 66 points – they scored just 55 points in the ensuing win over Duke – but couldn’t get the job done on the boards.
South Carolina destroyed Maryland in the all-out rebound battle, 64-31. The Gamecocks had more offensive rebounds (24) than the Terps had defensive rebounds (23). The byproduct of that was 24 second chance points in South Carolina. Despite that, second-year forward / guard Angel Reese proved himself once again with a monster game against one of the nation’s top players at Aliyah Boston. Reese has recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds, adding to his superstar season so far.
The Terps, missing junior guard Diamond Miller (knee), stayed close against South Carolina despite a tough game from junior guard Ashley Owusu, who scored 11 points on just 3 of 17 shots from the field.
Tuesday’s game looks like a perfect place to bounce back for the Terps, who must feel replenished after the long break. The game, which is scheduled to start at 11 a.m., will be televised on Next Level Sports.
Coppin State Eagles (6-5)
Review 2020-21: 2-13 (2-10 MEAC)
The Eagles are led by Head Coach Laura Harper, who is in his second season at the helm of the program. Harper is one of Maryland’s all-time players, helping the Terps win their only national title in 2006 and being named MVP of the NCAA Last Four Finals in 2006. In the current record books, Harper is all-time first in career blocked shots, 10th all-time in career rebounds in Maryland history. His No.15 hangs from the rafters of the Xfinity Center today.
Prior to arriving in Baltimore, Harper was the head coach of the central Montverde Academy high school and previously was an assistant coach in Florida. The Eagles had a respectable start to the season, beating opponents like La Salle, Marshall and Saint Peter’s on the road. Harper is someone Frese has immense respect for, as she noted in a response on Twitter on Saturday.
Coppin State comes off a resounding 68-43 victory over Winthrop on December 16.
Players to know
Aliyah Lawson, junior guard redshirt, 5ft 7in, # 3 – The Ontario, Canada product has started all 11 games for the Eagles this season and is their second-leading scorer with 12.5 points per game. Lawson was named to the All-MEAC second team last season after boosting the Eagles with 14.5 points per game, a mark that placed second in the entire conference. Lawson is also averaging 2.5 assists per game while establishing himself as Coppin State’s outside threat with a 33.3 percent three-point percentage.
Jalynda Salley, junior center redshirt, 6ft 4in, # 45 – Salley is not only the tallest player on the Eagles’ roster, but she’s also at least an inch taller than any player in Maryland. Salley enjoyed a dynamite junior season in 2020-21, averaging 9.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game en route to claiming All-MEAC third-team and conference honors. all defensive. Starting every game this season, Salley is showing 7.5 points, 5.9 boards and one block per game.
Jaia Alexander, Graduate Student Guard, 5ft 11in, # 20 – The former Clemson Tiger and Butler Bulldog is thriving with the Eagles, leading the team with 16.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Alexander was a career 8.2 points per game scorer before moving to his hometown of Baltimore and really exploded for Coppin State. However, Alexander hasn’t played since Dec. 11 against Saint Peter’s, missing Coppin State’s last two games. Its status is a development to watch before Tuesday.
Defense. The Eagles have one of the best defenses in the MEAC, holding their opponents to a best 36.3% clip of the conference on the field. Coppin State also locked the perimeter, also beating the rest of the conference by allowing opponents to shoot only 29.8% from depths. Coppin State is allowing just 63 points per game, but it will be an extremely difficult task against an attacking machine like Maryland.
Lack of firepower. Relatively, of course. The Eagles have had their fair share of success this season, as evidenced by their record of non-conference wins. Coppin State lost only by a single digit to opponent Big East Georgetown and only 16 points to enemy ACC Pittsburgh. But, Coppin State was beaten by Virginia Tech, 85-32, and lost by 29 points to Rhode Island and East Carolina, respectively. Maryland will be Coppin State’s biggest test of the season by far, and it will likely be difficult for them to generate much success against the Terps.
Three things to watch out for
1. What’s new on Diamond Miller? The Terps’ star junior goaltender has only played a total of 15 minutes in two games this season. Frese has seen her day to day with a knee injury for most of the season. Miller was in uniform and warmed up in each of Maryland’s last two games, but was ultimately ruled out in both. It will be interesting to see if the nine days off helped Miller regain his full strength.
Frankly, the Terps won’t need her against Coppin State. If she can’t make it, Maryland has another nine-day hiatus before resuming the Big Ten game against Illinois on December 30.
2. Maryland own the all-time series against Coppin State. Expect this to continue. In 15 tries against the Eagles, Maryland has won all of them. The clashes have never been particularly close either, with the average margin of victory rising to 32.2 points per game. The two teams last met on November 9, 2018, when Maryland won 93-36. Maryland and Coppin State were scheduled to face off last December, but the game was called off due to coronavirus concerns in the Eagles’ schedule.
3. Can the Terps fix the final issues before Big Ten plays? Maryland is 9-3 and ranked No. 9 nationally, but that team’s maximum potential is still ahead of them. Two of the Terps’ losses came in the Bahamas with just five real players rotating, and the other loss came to South Carolina. While there probably isn’t much to take away against the Eagles, a better rebound performance could be a boost of confidence for the Terps. Maryland has a chance to revisit the motions once more before conference play resumes.