By John Hack
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Nothing personal. Strictly business.
It’s the unofficial mantra of the Towson women’s basketball team as it enters the 2019-2020 season, according to senior guard Nukiya Mayo.
Towson took care of business in its exhibition game Thursday night, beating Alderson Broaddus 75-43 at SECU Arena.
The team looks to take care of business Tuesday in its season opener against Penn State (4 p.m., SECU Arena).
And Towson handled its business last March, winning the CAA conference tournament and earning its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. But its first-round tournament game showed the Tigers that they had plenty of room for growth. Towson lost 110-61 to second-seed UConn — one of the best programs in women’s basketball — in Storrs, Connecticut.
What lessons did Towson take from that blowout loss?
“It meant a lot to us,” Mayo said. “Making it to the NCAA Tournament proved that we were one if the best teams in the country, too. So whether we lost or won, we still played hard.”
Added redshirt junior guard Kionna Jeter: “Going up against UConn… I was just happy to be playing there. It was just a great experience.”
Towson doesn’t face any non-conference opponent as difficult as UConn this year. But coach Diane Richardson tried to fill the schedule with quality opponents to prepare her team again for March.
“I want us to be able to learn how to play in big games, so that when we come to our conference [games], we’re well adjusted,” Richardson said.
“Conference is really important,” she added. “Obviously the CAA [has] tough teams, so we are going to test ourselves against some big teams, so that we’re ready to battle when the conference comes.”
Richardson said she and her coaching staff noticed this progression during her first few seasons. Towson was 9-21 in her first season as coach before winning 20 games last season, going 11-7 in conference.
“We’ve seen them confident last year, and now that we had that good year last year, I’m seeing more confidence in them. And that’s been a plus for us as a coaching staff is [getting] them to believe in themselves, and they’re starting to believe in themselves.”
Richardson said Towson will get more attention from opponents this year after the conference title.
“We also know that because we won last year, we’re gonna see some different looks, and now everybody knows, and so we’ve gotta get better and build on what we did last year,” Richardson said.
Jeter said the team isn’t taking this year lightly: “We still have to build a lot of chemistry and help get each other going.”
Added Mayo: “We’re an improved team. The [fans] should come out and watch.”