Sunday was a day to forget for the Maryland women’s basketball program.
It began sadly when Terps coach Brenda Frese learned that her father, William “Bill” Frese, lost his long battle with prostate cancer. It wasn’t helped by a snowstorm that might have dissuaded fans from making the trek to the Xfinity Center in College Park for a 5 p.m. tip-off with Michigan.
And it ended with the No. 8 Terps not putting up much of a fight in a 69-49 upset romp by the No. 11 Wolverines before an announced 4,189.
The setback marked the first time Maryland, which entered the day averaging 83.3 points per game, had scored less than 50 points in a game since Dec. 3, 2012, when that squad was humbled by Connecticut, 63-48. It was also the Terps’ worst loss since Dec. 31, 2019, when they fell, 81-58, at Northwestern, and it ended the program’s 31-game win streak at home — a streak that began after a 63-54 loss at South Carolina on Nov. 10, 2019, and was the longest in the country.
After the score was tied 11 with 6:03 left in the first quarter, Michigan outscored the Terps, 49-29, over the remaining 33:57 to improve to 15-2 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten and secure its first victory over Maryland in College Park in six overall meetings. It marked the Wolverines’ second win in 12 games against the Terps.
“This was a tough one,” Frese said. “I thought they looked hungrier, faster, obviously the more aggressive team for 40 minutes. It helps when you start the first quarter and they were lights out. Eight of their first nine shots, five early threes kind of set us spiraling. Credit to them. Our game plan early obviously was to limit Naz [Hillmon], which we did a tremendous job on her. But they’re a great team.
“[We’re] still searching for our identity, our energy and effort. The good thing is, it’s only January. But at some point, we’ve got to be able to get into a rhythm as a team and come out competing for 40 straight minutes.”
Frese coached despite losing her father Sunday morning at his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He would have celebrated his 90th birthday on Saturday.
Frese said through tears that she was determined to coach her team.
“What else was I going to do? I felt like this was where he would want me to be,” she said. “He’s my heart and I think a big piece of who I am as a coach and motivating. He’s always been that. But I’m relieved that he’s in a better place because he suffered at the end. Cancer sucks.”
Maryland scored just three points in the second quarter — the program’s lowest output in a quarter since women’s basketball switched from halves to quarters for the 2015-16 season. After graduate student power forward Chloe Bibby drained a 3-pointer with 8:56 left in the period, the Teros did not score again over the next 10:05 until junior shooting guard Diamond Miller converted two free throws with 8:51 left in the third quarter.
No Maryland player scored more than nine points. Sophomore power forward Angel Reese (St. Frances) finished one point shy of her 11th double-double of the season with nine points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Bibby contributed nine points, two rebounds and two assists.
Graduate student shooting guard Katie Benzan, who finished with five points and four assists, credited the Wolverines with disrupting the Terps’ offensive strategy.
“We let them dictate our offense,” she said. “So just being in attack mode and attacking that hard hedge [would help]. We were hesitant coming off ball screens. So maybe just attacking a little bit more. And then if we got more stops, maybe pushing in transition would boost our offense.”
Maryland did not help itself as the team committed 13 of their 17 turnovers in the first two quarters. The team was also outrebounded, 38-23, including 14-10 on the offensive glass.
Michigan junior shooting guard Maddie Nolan led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from 3-point range and added five rebounds and three assists. The seven 3-pointers marked a career high for Nolan. Senior shooting guard Leigha Brown amassed 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Wolverines triumphed despite a quiet nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks from Hillmon. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year entered the game averaging 20.1 points and 8.5 rebounds, but coach Kim Barnes Arico said Hillmon’s presence opened up opportunities for Nolan on the perimeter.
“I thought we went inside-out, and it really helps when you make 3-point shots like we did today,” she told ESPN after the game. “Maddie Nolan was unbelievable from the outside. Naz Hillmon draws a lot of attention on the inside always forcing a double, and it really opened us up on the outside, and Maddie was able to knock down those shots today.”
NO. 8 MARYLAND@OHIO STATE
Thursday, 6 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network