LSU’s Angel Reese brings fans, inspiration to Coppin State

LSU’s Angel Reese brings fans, inspiration to Coppin State

As Maliyah Warren strolled around the concourse level of the Coppin State Physical Education Complex an hour before the defending national champion LSU Lady Tigers would tipoff against the Lady Eagles, there was no question who the 11-year-old came to see.

“Angel Reese,” Maliyah said excitedly. “I love her game. I’m a big fan.”

For Amber Lewis, the opportunity to see Reese meant nine hours of driving back and forth from her home in Brooklyn, New York — her father served as chauffeur — for her first opportunity to see her favorite player.

“I like Angel because she knows how to handle the ball and she’s aggressive on the court,” Amber, an 11-year-old who’s considered one of the top young players in New York City, said. “I want to see how she plays so I can use that in my game.”

On a night when LSU made history as the first NCAA Division I national champion to play a game at a historically Black college or university, the outcome was predictable: the seventh-ranked Lady Tigers won easily 80-48.

And for the 4,100 fans who packed the building on the tiny West Baltimore campus, it was more than a game: it was a chance to witness, firsthand, the phenomenon of Baltimore’s own, Reese.

“You saw an arena that sold out a long time ago, and it’s because of Angel Reese,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said after the game. “We came back to her roots. It makes you feel good.”

That good feeling permeated the building in what was the hottest ticket in the arena since the building opened in 2009.

Boxing champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis, a West Baltimore native, showed up at halftime and sat on the baseline near the Coppin bench. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore watched the game from the president’s box, where he shared space with Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott.

“Anytime we can highlight Baltimore in a positive way and highlight one of our own who’s doing great things, there’s nothing better you can ask,” Scott said.

Reese received the loudest applause when her name was announced during pregame introductions, and then proceeded to put on a show. She scored a game-high 26 points (making 11 of her 15 shots), while recording a career-high five steals.

“I remember the first time I came here and there weren’t too many fans,” Reese said, recalling her 2021 game against Coppin during the second year of the coronavirus pandemic when she played for the University of Maryland. “I’m just happy [about] the place that I’m in and the people that I’ve been able to touch were here.”

As well as her longtime supporters and family, including her mother, Angel Reese, who sat five rows behind the LSU bench.

“I’m so excited to see so many familiar faces, and I’m so excited to see so much love,” she said, getting a chance to see her daughter play one night after watching her son, Julian Reese, help lead Maryland to a win in College Park. “And to see this game played at an HBCU, that’s monumental, and I hope it’s the start of something.”

In agreement with mama Reese was Mulkey. While the LSU coach played at HBCU schools while playing for Louisiana Tech, Wednesday was her first experience coaching a game on an HBCU campus.

“It was a great crowd,” Mulkey said, “and it was great for women’s basketball.”

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