"This one's special," Frese said. "This one I'm going to remember for a long time."
Entering Sunday's game against Minnesota (19-10, 11-7), Maryland (27-3, 16-2 Big Ten) knew it would have to shut down star guard Rachel Banham, who was averaging more than 38 points per game in February, including games of 60 and 52 points. Frese said the Terps were hoping to hold her under 30.
Banham set the Big Ten's single-season scoring record and displayed her wide arsenal, with spot-up 3-pointers and slicing drives to the basket. But she got into foul trouble early, sat for a period in the first half and finished with 26 points.
Maryland led Minnesota 23-17 when Banham headed to the bench with 1:04 left in the first quarter with her second foul. The Golden Gophers chipped away and got to within two points of the Terps, but when Banham returned with 4:44 left in the second quarter, Maryland led 37-25.
The closest Minnesota got down the stretch was 17 points, with about seven minutes left in the third quarter, but Maryland promptly went on a 10-0 run over the next two minutes to put the game out of reach. The Terps' lead stretched to as many as 42 in the fourth quarter.
"When you have a player like Rachel Banham, who's going to play at the next level, they're never out of the game," Frese said. "I thought we did a great job in terms of staying locked in."
Maryland clinched the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament and won't have to play until Friday's quarterfinals. But a host of formidable opponents remain, including No. 5 Ohio State, which gave the Terps their two conference losses this season.
Maryland, though, closed the season on a six-game winning streak, and is looking forward to duplicating the postseason success of the past two seasons, both of which ended in the Final Four.
"It gives us a lot of momentum going into the tournament," Howard said. "I think every game, there's stuff to learn from, so we'll definitely go back and work on it and learn from anything and get ready for the tournament. I think it was a great win. We have a lot more to go."