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Maryland women’s basketball to open season Thanksgiving weekend at Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida

The Maryland women’s basketball team will open its 2020-21 season with three games on Thanksgiving weekend at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, the program announced Wednesday.

Maryland will take on Davidson on Friday, Nov. 27 at 2:30 p.m., Missouri State on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 5:30 p.m. and Arkansas on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA announced in mid-September that the start of the college basketball season would be delayed until Nov. 25.

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Eight men’s and six women’s teams will play in 21 games at Hertz Arena and Florida Gulf Coast University’s Alico Arena. There will be no general fan access and tickets will not be available to the general public, but a limited number of spectator credentials will be supplied to each team.

The tournament’s health and safety plan includes mandatory COVID-19 antigen and antibody testing before arrival; rapid antigen testing upon arrival and throughout the stay; daily medical screenings, including self-evaluations and temperature screenings; and social distancing and mask requirements in public spaces.

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Rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing with a three-hour turnaround time will also be available to confirm any positive tests from the antigen testing, and contract tracing will be conducted through the “wallet” feature on cell phones. There will also be enhanced cleaning protocols at the resort, game venues and on local ground transportation.

“We have built these men’s and women’s fields with the health and safety of our teams first and foremost in mind,” said Brooks Downing, president of bdG Sports, which is sponsoring the tournament. “We have instituted a comprehensive safety plan with the focus on our three pillars of the host resort, game venue and ground transportation.”

FGCU was one of just four women’s teams with 30 wins last season, Maryland (28-4) won the Big Ten regular-season and conference tournament title and Missouri State (26-4) was crowned champs of the Missouri Valley. Arkansas (24-8) is expected to once again be among the top scoring teams after finishing third in the country last year at 83.4 points per game, while Davidson returns 92% of its scoring and is expected to contend for an Atlantic 10 title.

The Terps return Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ashley Owusu and rising sophomores Faith Masonius and Diamond Miller. Redshirt sophomore Mimi Collins will be eligible after transferring from Tennessee last year and redshirt junior Channise Lewis will return to the court after a knee injury.

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Coach Brenda Frese also welcomes four new Terps in Katie Benzan, a guard graduate transfer from Harvard; Chloe Bibby, a guard/forward transfer from Mississippi State; Taisiya Kozlova, a 6-1 freshman guard from Russia; and Angel Reese, the No. 2 player in the country in the class of 2020 from St. Frances who was recently voted preseason Big Ten Newcomer of the Year by ESPN.

The Maryland men’s basketball team announced earlier this week that it will host a three-team tournament with Navy and Mount St. Mary’s in College Park over three days after Thanksgiving to begin its season.

Women’s schedule

Friday, Nov. 27

  • Arkansas vs. Wake Forest – 11:30 a.m.
  • Davidson vs. Maryland – 2:30 p.m.
  • Missouri State vs. FGCU – 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 28

  • Wake Forest vs. Davidson – 11:30 a.m.
  • FGCU vs. Arkansas – 2:30 p.m.
  • Maryland vs. Missouri State – 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 29

  • Davidson vs. FGCU – 11:30 a.m.
  • Missouri State vs. Wake Forest – 2:30 p.m.
  • Arkansas vs. Maryland – 5:30 p.m.
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