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Extra-special win

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- There really was no good reason for Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese, one week after delivering twin boys, to be on the sideline at Comcast Center yesterday.

For Frese, however, there were five special reasons to make a cameo appearance in the Maryland locker room and on the bench, namely to honor the five Terps playing in their final regular-season home game.

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And the Maryland players gave Frese something to remember, erasing an eight-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime before beating Florida State, 92-84, in front of an announced 16,135, the largest crowd of the season and the fourth largest in Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball history.

Frese delivered twin boys Markus William and Tyler Joseph via natural childbirth Feb. 17 at a Washington-area hospital. Yesterday, she said she was "going purely on adrenaline" and that she had found "a way to block out any kind of pain that you're feeling."

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Frese recruited the four seniors - forwards Crystal Langhorne, Laura Harper and Jade Perry and guard Ashleigh Newman - as well as junior Christie Marrone, who will graduate in the summer, and the coach said the joy of honoring her players outweighed whatever discomfort she endured.

"I'm sure from my end, I'll be suffering this week and paying for it. It's definitely worth it," Frese said. "It definitely took a lot for me to get here today. I'm not going to lie about that."

Then Frese paused for about 15 seconds, before saying through tears: "But I'm real lucky to have the support from so many great people to be able to get here [yesterday]. That's the coolest part."

Frese, who watched the first half from the locker room before coming out to the bench in the second half, said she has been sleeping about two hours a night and has "an army of people" at home helping her with the twins, including her husband, Mark Thomas, and his parents.

Frese, 37, in her sixth year at Maryland, said the babies "have turned us as adults into babies, because it's so hard to figure out their wants and needs" as they try to feed the twins and adjust to their sleep cycles.

Still, the challenge has been worth it, Frese said, adding that the rush of adrenaline has made having twins "like winning the national championship and winning one every day of the week."

If the No. 4 Terps (28-2, 12-1 ACC) go on to capture their second national title in three years, they will no doubt point to yesterday as a key moment in the process, as they pulled out one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent memory.

The Seminoles (16-11, 6-6) fought back from an 11-point second-half deficit to take a 73-65 lead with 2:59 left on a baseline jumper by forward Mara Freshour, who scored a team-high 23 points.

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From there, however, Maryland drew from a wellspring of emotion, scoring on 15 straight possessions late in the second half and in overtime. They tied the score at 76 on Marissa Coleman's layup with 4.9 seconds remaining.

In the overtime - Maryland's fourth of the season - Freshour gave the Seminoles a 79-76 lead with a three-pointer, but Maryland outscored Florida State 16-5 the rest of the way.

In the process, the Terps, who will finish the regular season Sunday at North Carolina State, completed their fifth undefeated home season - and their first in 19 years.

"It's another great achievement for our team to be able to go undefeated [at home]," Langhorne said. "It's very tough, especially with some of the situations we've been in. [Yesterday] we were down eight, and in some of the [other] games we were down. It just shows the toughness of our team that we can pull out wins at home."

Point guard Kristi Toliver had a game-high 24 points in 42 minutes, and Coleman scored 10 of her 13 points after halftime.

But the day clearly belonged to the Maryland seniors, who have won more games than any other Terps class, led by Langhorne, the program's all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

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The 6-foot-2 All-American had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and after the game, Langhorne was honored with the raising of her No. 1 jersey to the Comcast Center rafters. That moment was special enough, but it was made all the more special, Langhorne said, by the effort her coach made to get there.

"Our Senior Day would have been really different if she wasn't here, just knowing that she recruited all of us," Langhorne said. "But I think we would have understood. If she didn't make it, that means that she couldn't have made the game. She was going to make the game in any way possible.'

milton.kent@baltsun.com

FLORIDA STATE-Moore 2-4 0-0 4, Hunnicutt 1-3 0-0 3, Freshour 7-20 4-6 23, Davis-Cain 6-16 0-0 12, Williams 6-16 2-4 14, Gray 0-0 0-0 0, Harvin 2-7 6-8 11, Ward 2-7 0-0 5, Monroe 5-6 2-2 12. Totals 31-79 14-20 84. MARYLAND-Harper 3-4 6-9 12, Perry 1-3 2-3 4, Langhorne 6-10 9-11 21, Toliver 8-14 5-6 24, Newman 2-5 0-1 5, Strickland 5-9 2-2 13, Mingo 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 5-8 3-4 13. Totals 30-53 27-36 92. Half-Maryland 32-31. Regulation-76-76. 3-point goals-Florida State 8-26 (Freshour 5-11, Harvin 1-1, Hunnicutt 1-2, Ward 1-6, Williams 0-1, Davis-Cain 0-5), Maryland 5-14 (Toliver 3-6, Newman 1-3, Strickland 1-4, Coleman 0-1). Fouled out-Davis-Cain, Moore. Rebounds-Florida State 30 (Davis-Cain 7), Maryland 51 (Langhorne 11). Assists-Florida State 15 (Ward 6), Maryland 14 (Coleman 4). Total fouls-Florida State 27, Maryland 19. A-16,135.



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