The 12th-ranked Maryland women's basketball team drew the No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament's Bridgeport (Conn.) Region when the field of 64 was announced Monday night. The Terps will play Quinnipiac in the first round Saturday at Comcast Center.
The Terps are making their 21 appearance in the NCAA tournament and ninth under coach Brenda Frese, who was named Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year after directing Maryland to a tie for second place in the ACC during the regular season despite a rash of injuries that severely depleted the roster.
Maryland (24-7) is scheduled to tip-off Saturday at 11 a.m. against No. 13-seeded Quinnipiac (30-2). The Northeast Conference champions are making their first NCAA tournament appearance. In the second game in College Park, fifth-seeded Michigan State, which lost to Louisville in the first round at Comcast Center last season, plays No. 12 seed Marist.
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Seven-time national champion Connecticut (29-4) is the top seed in the Bridgeport Region. The other three top seeds are Baylor (32-1) in Oklahoma City; Notre Dame (31-1) in Norfolk (Va.); and Stanford (31-2) in Spokane (Wash.).
"Obviously it's been a real special season, and it's not over yet," Frese said at a selection show viewing party at Heritage Hall in Comcast Center. "Everything that this team has faced, to again be hosting and have the opportunity that we're given in the big dance. Yeah, we're real excited."
Last year, Maryland reached the regional final. Forced to come back time and again throughout the tournament's early rounds, the Terps lost to top-seeded Notre Dame, 80-49, in Raleigh, N.C., one game short of the Final Four.
That the Terps were able to secure a top-four seed this season is all the more notable given their misfortune with injuries. Sophomore point guard Brene Moseley was lost for the season in October with a torn ACL.
A month later, starting shooting guard Laurin Mincy suffered a torn ACL in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against then-No. 19 Nebraska in Lincoln. The junior, who was second on the team in scoring last season required surgery and is also out until next season.
Freshman starting forward Tierney Pfirman missed a month with a dislocated knee cap and now is out indefinitely with mononucleosis. She did not accompany the team to Greensboro, N.C., where Maryland lost to North Carolina, 72-65, in the ACC semifinals.
"Just being able to play at home is an advantage," said Maryland junior forward Alyssa Thomas, the two-time ACC player of the year. "We're familiar with the rims, and just the atmosphere and being able to sleep in your own bed."