LINCOLN, NEBRASKA - It seemed like just another easy Maryland win judging by the way the Terrapins walked through the handshake line and off the court after beating Nebraska.
The scene in the locker room wasn’t nearly as subdued following the 81-63 victory over Nebraska on Tuesday night. That’s where the ninth-ranked Terps celebrated Brenda Frese’s 500th win as a head coach.
With her parents and high school coach on hand, Maryland staff hung signs marking the occasion and played a surprise video with congratulatory messages from former players, staff and loved ones.
“The people I’ve been so fortunate to coach, and to be able to have so many great staff members . . . The video was very long, so you would think I’ve been coaching for a very long time. But it was very special,” Frese said.
Frese is 443-120 in 17 seasons at Maryland, where she’s led the Terps to one national championship and three Final Fours. She also has been head coach at Ball State and Minnesota and is 500-150 overall in 20 years.
“I haven’t made a basket, I haven’t got a stop on defense,” she said. “It comes down to the tremendous players and tremendous staff members we’ve been able to put together consistently over time. That’s what that numbers speaks of, the people who have come together for a single purpose, and that’s winning.”
Kaila Charles scored 19 points, eight of them coming when Maryland broke open the game in the third quarter. The Terps (14-1, 3-1 Big Ten) have won two straight since getting upset by Rutgers on Dec. 31. The Cornhuskers (7-8, 2-2) have lost two in a row after winning their first two conference games.
Charles and her teammates emerged from their locker room wearing red T-shirts commemorating Frese’s milestone win.
“It’s a great experience to be a part of because she’s just a great coach on and off the court,” Charles said. “Knowing she’s built a standard and a great program, I’m glad and blessed to be a part of it and to learn from one of the best.”
Maryland led from start to finish, but there were moments of anxiety for Frese. The Huskers came back from a 10-point second-quarter deficit to close to 45-43 in the third. Charles then put back Stephanie Jones’ miss in the paint to start a 166 spurt to end the quarter.
The Huskers later cut the lead to seven, but the Terps used a 15-2 run to make it a 20-point game with 3 minutes left.
“We had drawn to within two and all of a sudden they stretched it out,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said. “That’s something you can expect from the No. 9 team in the country, but it was a disappointing way to finish that game. We wanted to play better than that down the stretch and find a way to make that a competitive game.”