Feature photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.
The University of Maryland Terrapins officially kick off their 2015-2016 season Saturday at 2 p.m. as they take on the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks in College Park’s Xfinity Center.
Coming off of two blowout exhibition game wins, the sixth-ranked Terps are looking like a force to be reckoned with. Forwards Brianna Fraser, who notched a double-double against Indiana University of Pennsylvania with 12 points and 10 boards, and Kiah Gillespie, as well as centers Brionna Jones and Malina Howard collectively create an extremely defined inside presence. The team will also look to senior Chloe Pavlech and junior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who scored 22 against the Crimson Hawks, for leadership at the top of the key.
“That’s always how we love to play: sharing the basketball,” head coach Brenda Frese said after Maryland’s 127-33 win over Goldey-Beacom College Oct. 31. “I think it makes us really difficult. I think if you want to be competitive, you need to have anywhere from three to five players average, on one night, consistent double figures. That is a big emphasis and always has been for Maryland basketball.”
This season marks UMass Lowell’s third as a Division I team. The River Hawks are coming off a 14-15 season and are returning three starters: senior forward Lindsey Doucette, senior guard Melissa Frase and junior forward Lauren Parra. Doucette, UMass Lowell’s tallest player at 6-feet-3-inches, led the team last season in rebounds (7.2 per game), blocks (0.9) and steals (1.8). Overall, the River Hawks are looking to rebuild this year after losing their top two scorers and welcoming four new players.
“We have probably lost the most offensive and defensive production with the graduation of our seniors [guards Shannon Samuels and Jasmine McRoy], so we’ll have to continue to prove ourselves throughout the season,” UMass Lowell head coach Jenerrie Harris said in an Oct. 21 article on goriverhawks.com. “We’ve done a great job in the offseason of discussing what’s most important to us as a team and for the program overall.”
UMass Lowell’s real challenge on Saturday will be to match Maryland’s post presence. Doucette is a strong contender and is joined by Parra, who averaged 0.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in 2014-15.
Before the game begins, the Terps will reveal banners for both the 2015 NCAA Final Four and Big Ten title.
This game is the first ever matchup between the Terrapins and the River Hawks and will be broadcasted live on the Big Ten 2 Go website.