Women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese won her 500th game at Maryland, the most in program history, on Sunday as the No. 9 Terps dominated host Nebraska, 95-73, for their third straight victory.
Frese passed Hall of Famer Chris Weller, who won 499 games in 27 seasons from 1975 to 2002, for first on the program’s all-time list.
“I spoke to her this past week, and I already have a message from her,” Frese said after the game. “I can’t say enough about her grace and dignity. She was so proud I was going to pass her.
“We both know records are made to broken.”
Under Frese’s direction, Maryland has captured 12 conference titles and a national championship in 2006. Her Terps teams have appeared in three Final Fours and 16 NCAA tournaments and have produced 16 winning seasons, 16 straight 20-win seasons and seven 30-win seasons. Fourteen of Frese’s players have gone on to play professionally in the WNBA.
“Unbelievable,” Frese said of the accomplishment in a postgame interview on Big Ten Network. “I’m truly honored. When I first came to Maryland, this wasn’t a milestone I was looking at, to be quite honest. I was hoping to get that contract extension to be able to stay at Maryland. It’s been an incredible journey, I’ve grown as a coach, but I can’t say enough. Five hundred wins at Maryland doesn’t happen without all the tremendous players and parents and families and staff and support staff that have come through in the 19 years that I’ve been at Maryland.”
As the final buzzer sounded in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday, the Terps mobbed their coach on the sideline, jumping up and down to celebrate the historic moment.
This season’s team has the chance to be among Frese’s best. Maryland (14-2, 10-1 Big Ten), which has won at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title in all but one season since joining the conference in 2014, is projected to be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and entered Sunday ranked first in the country in scoring offense at 91.5 points per game.
The offense didn’t miss a beat Sunday, as the Terps eclipsed 90 points for the 10th time this season. Ashley Owusu nearly had a triple double with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Diamond Miller scored 24 points — her most in conference play this season — on 9-for-12 shooting.
The performance is even more impressive considering Maryland hadn’t played in 10 days — its last game postponed because of Michigan’s COVID-19 protocols — and arrived in Nebraska the morning of the game because of weather conditions.
“I just marvel at this team, they didn’t even flinch,” Frese said. “After two travel delays, no playing in 10 days and having that start ... you were able to see there wasn’t any rust.”
Mimi Collins added 19 points and seven rebounds and Chloe Bibby scored 16 points for Maryland, which shot 56% from the field (39-for-70) to set a record for most points by an opposing team at eight-year-old Pinnacle Bank Arena.
After falling behind early, Nebraska cut the deficit to 56-46 with 5:30 to go in the third quarter. Maryland responded with a dominant stretch, outscoring the Cornhuskers 21-4 to end the quarter as the lead ballooned to 77-50.
The blowout gave the Terps an opportunity to empty the bench. Former top recruit Zoe Young, who missed her entire freshman season with a torn ACL, finished with five points in nine minutes, including her first career 3-pointer, much to the delight of her teammates.
Frese was coach at Ball State for two seasons and Minnesota for one and is 556-160 in 22 seasons. Coincidentally, she picked up her 500th career win at Nebraska two years ago.
“It’s something I’m I’m extremely proud of,” she said. “Sometimes we make it look really easy but it’s really difficult. ... You hope as you do things the right way those things take care of themselves.
“There’s no other group I’d rather be with ... going through this season, all the things that we’ve had to experience, is really something I’m going to remember for a lifetime.”
Ruby Porter scored a career-high 19 points for the Cornhuskers (9-10, 7-8), who have lost four straight and are 0-13 against the Terps. Nebraska shot 50% in the second half, 62.5% in the fourth quarter and had just five turnovers, yet was outscored 44-40 after the break.
Maryland finished 8-for-19 from 3-point range, committed just eight turnovers and had a 38-30 rebounding advantage.