Maryland women’s basketball remains a constant in Top 25 poll — even amidst its ‘biggest overhaul’

COLLEGE PARK — As long as she has been a member of the Maryland women’s basketball program, Faith Masonius has not known life outside of the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

In fact, the Terps have been ranked in the AP poll for 243 consecutive weeks, the second-longest active streak behind UConn’s run of 558 weeks.


Masonius, a senior power forward, hopes she never has to experience falling out of the poll.

“As a player, you feel the pressure of, ‘I don’t want to be on the team that broke that record,’” she said with a laugh. “So there’s pressure as a competitor and as a competitive basketball team, but I think we as basketball players apply that pressure to ourselves. We don’t want to be that team.”


The Terps’ staying power in the AP poll began with the 2010-11 preseason Top 25. And while many coaches tend to dismiss rankings until the final one, coach Brenda Frese doesn’t shy away from the streak.

“It’s an honor,” she said. “I think it speaks to the consistency and excellence that we’ve had here. It’s a pride factor. Our theme this year is ‘legUSy’ and the program that’s been built. I think it’s something where when you’re recruiting players, they want to come in and be a part of a successful program, and this is a program in spite of kids leaving, graduating, transferring through the portal where it doesn’t matter. We’ve been able to sustain that success.”

Maryland’s current ranking of No. 8 was announced a few hours before Monday night’s 87-66 victory over visiting Penn State. The Terps (18-4, 9-2 Big Ten) will test that ranking and their five-game winning streak with matchups this week at No. 6 Iowa (17-4, 9-1) on Thursday night and against No. 10 Ohio State (19-3, 8-3) at Xfinity Center on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese huddles with her players during a game against Rutgers Jan. 15 at Xfinity Center in College Park. “I think it speaks to the consistency and excellence that we’ve had here," Frese said of the team's 243 consecutive weeks in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

That the program finds itself inside the top 10 might have seemed inconceivable after an offseason during which five players in Angel Reese (LSU), Ashley Owusu (Virginia Tech), Mimi Collins (North Carolina State), Channise Lewis (Pittsburgh) and Taisiya Kozlova (Dayton) left for other destinations. Their departures left Masonius, senior shooting guard Diamond Miller and sophomore shooting guard Shyanne Sellers as the only players with considerable playing time to mesh with five transfers and four freshmen.

The chemistry so far seems fine. Miller leads the team in points, rebounds, steals and blocks and was named on Monday one of 20 candidates for the Wooden Award and on Tuesday one of 10 players to the watch list for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award honoring the nation’s top shooting guard. Sellers ranks second in points, rebounds, assists and blocks, and a cast of senior transfers in Abby Meyers (third in points and rebounds), Brinae Alexander (fourth in points) and Lavender Briggs (sixth in points and assists) have filled the void.

Wilting was not an option, according to Frese.

“We’ve done it before. So it’s not like it’s our first rodeo,” she said. “But I think this has been our biggest overhaul that we’ve had to go through. But I think it continues to reinforce to anyone out there looking that this is a program that has always been a nationally ranked program.”

The Terps’ resilience has earned the admiration of supporters and opponents alike.


“When I think about Maryland, they lost a lot of people, and they don’t even have a true post player, and Maryland’s had post players through the years, and they’ve always had an inside game,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said after her team’s loss last week. “For Brenda to have the team and be doing the things that she’s doing with the team she has this year is really incredible.”

Meghan McKeown, a women’s basketball analyst for the Big Ten Network, ESPN and the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, pointed out that Frese offset the losses of those five players by effectively mining the transfer portal.

“Brenda Frese is able to go in and quickly make an assessment,” she said. “Nowadays, once a kid goes into the portal, she’s only in there for 24 to 48 hours before she’s committing to somewhere. So for her to be able to go in there and make the right decision quickly has really paid off, and they’re beginning to mesh together.”

Maryland coach Brenda Frese and others cheer on the team during a game against South Carolina on Nov. 11 in College Park. “For Brenda to have the team and be doing the things that she’s doing with the team she has this year is really incredible," Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said.

Masonius said Frese’s habit of arriving to work early and always making time for her players also set a tone.

“She definitely sets the standard with her actions and how much time and effort and energy she puts into this school, the program and us as people and basketball players,” Masonius said.

The Terps have also had to fend off entreaties from Big Ten competition like No. 4 Indiana, Iowa, Ohio State and No. 18 Michigan. McKeown, who played shooting guard at conference foe Northwestern from 2010 to 2014 and whose father Joe coaches the Wildcats, said Maryland’s run of three consecutive Big Ten Tournament crowns when the school joined the league in 2015 forced peers to improve.


“I feel like ever since Maryland got into the Big Ten, everybody was like, ‘Maryland is the team to beat,’” she said. “Now you have Iowa with a generational talent in Caitlin Clark. You have Indiana with one of the most disciplined teams in the country, you have Ohio State. So you have so many other talented teams, and I think that’s a reflection on the Big Ten and how good the product is right now.”

Perhaps at some point, UConn will suffer a downturn and fall out of the AP poll, and Maryland will be the proud owner of the nation’s longest active streak in the poll. Then again, there might be a day when the Terps find themselves on the outside looking in.

That possibility didn’t faze Frese.

“If it ends tomorrow, it will end tomorrow,” she said. “It’s not like your life is not going to continue on. I just think it’s very rewarding and cool to be a part of something special when you look at the time you’ve spent there.”

No. 8 Maryland at No. 6 Iowa

Thursday, 8:30 p.m.