The University of Maryland women’s basketball team clinched the Big Ten Conference championship, and with the team’s victory over Penn State Monday evening, the Terps are on their way to a perfect debut season in their new conference.
Ranked No. 5 in the nation (24-2 overall, 16-0 in the Big Ten Conference), Maryland was guaranteed a share of the title with its 81-70 win over Wisconsin on Feb. 19. Ohio State’s victory over 13th-ranked Iowa on Feb. 21 gave the Terps sole possession of the honor.
Going into the 2015 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, Maryland is guaranteed the No. 1 seed. The tournament will take place at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., March 4 through 8.
Following Monday night’s 65-34 rout of the Nittany Lions, the Terps, decked out in pink basketball shoes for the Play 4 Kay Pink Game, took center court in the Xfinity Center to receive their rightly earned trophy.
Said senior guard Lauren Mincy, “I think we were just really excited to play this game. It was big. … But I think this is only a starting point for us. It feels great, but we are going to get back at it tomorrow.”
This is the fourth conference title in head coach Brenda Frese’s 13 years.
“I’m just really proud of this group, but, you know, going into this season there were a lot of unknowns,” Frese said after the Penn State game. “We had a young team, a new conference, and to be able to come out and play the way that they have in the first 16 games is not easy, and they stuck together, they trusted, they really worked extremely hard.”
This “is the first step for us, it’s something we’re proud of, but hopefully there are many great things left for this team to be able to do,” she added. “We have two more regular-season conference games to be able to get ready for the tournament and the postseason.”
As of press time, the Terps were preparing to face Indiana at home on Thursday, where fifth-year senior Mincy was honored prior to tip-off.
Those who follow women’s basketball know that Maryland’s team is a post-season tournament staple. They won the national title in 2006 and last year made it to the Final Four, where they fell to undefeated Notre Dame.
The program has graduated a number of players who have gone on to play professionally in the WNBA and in Israel, including Kristi Toliver, who sank an incredible three-point shot over a far taller Duke player to clinch the 2006 national title and spent the 2010 WNBA off-season playing for B’not Hasharon, where she counted a trip to the Dead Sea as one of her favorite sightseeing excursions.
Notable among former Terps stars is Shay Doron, who earned the distinction of becoming the first Israeli drafted to the WNBA when she was selected by the New York Liberty in 2007. She left the WNBA after one season to continue her career in Israel.
Doron’s recent 26 points against UE Sopron of Hungary lifted her team, Maccabi B’not Ashdod, into the semi-final of the 2015 FIBA EuroCup. As of press time, her team was preparing to face Villeneuve D’Ascq of France. Israel last made an appearance in the semifinals in 2011, when Doron led her former team, Elitzur Ramla, to the tournament title.