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Coach Diane Richardson, point guard Aleah Nelson expected back for Towson women’s basketball

After a brief health scare, coach Diane Richardson and point guard Aleah Nelson are expected to return for the Towson women’s basketball team’s first game in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, which begins Wednesday.

Richardson left the second half of the team’s 86-55 setback at Delaware on Sunday and was taken to an area hospital “out of an abundance of caution,” a team spokesman said Saturday morning. The fourth-year coach was released from the hospital that same night.

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It is unclear whether the incident was related to Richardson’s bout with the coronavirus in January. After the Tigers lost, 89-85, at James Madison on Jan. 3, Richardson tested positive for COVID-19 and did not return to the program until Jan. 27. Two games were canceled and three games were postponed as the team went into quarantine for 14 days.

After Towson defeated the Dukes, 83-74, on Feb. 10 in a game rescheduled from Jan. 5, Richardson admitted the toll the illness had taken on her.

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“I just remember going to Harrisonburg and coming back with COVID and barely making it out,” she said at the time.

Nelson, the team’s starter for the first 19 games, also left in the second half of that game at the Blue Hens, suffering a head injury after colliding with an opponent. The Baltimore resident and McDonogh graduate had entered the series against Delaware ranked sixth among her NCAA Division I peers in assists at 6.8 per game. She also ranked second among the Tigers in scoring at 13.6 points and first in free-throw percentage at .781.

Neither Richardson nor Nelson participated in the Tigers’ back-to-back series at UNC Wilmington. Associate head coach Zach Kancher ran the team in Richardson’s place, and junior Skye Williams started both games at point guard.

Towson won the first game, 77-66, on Thursday, but the last-place Seahawks pulled off the upset in the second game, 75-65, on Friday. The loss dropped the Tigers (13-8 overall and 8-6 in the CAA) from the No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament. They will meet No. 5 seed Hofstra (7-11, 5-7) in a quarterfinal on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Elon’s Schar Center for the right to advance to Friday’s semifinal date against either top-seeded Delaware (19-3, 16-2) or the winner between No. 8 seed College of Charleston (6-8, 2-6) or No. 9 seed UNC Wilmington (5-14, 2-11).

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