University of Maryland Women's basketball team cheer… (Algerina Perna/Baltimore…)
COLLEGE PARK — Brenda Frese's 4-year-old son, Tyler, squirmed in his mother’s lap Monday as they waited for word on where Maryland’s women’s basketball team would be seeded and whom the Terps would play in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
If Tyler was impatient, so was Frese. The coach and her players have been eager all season to get back to the tournament and eclipse the memory of last season’s second-round loss to Georgetown on Maryland’s home court.
After waiting for most of the televised selection show, the Terps (28-4) learned that they would be a No. 2 seed and host No. 15 Navy at 11:15 a.m. Saturday at Comcast Center in a first-time matchup full of local flavor.
Frese and the Terps said they were pleased to be playing a state rival.
“It’s a team that we tried to schedule in the past,” she said. “I’m sure their team will travel well.”
The interest generated by a matchup of two schools so close together “would be good for both programs,” senior center Lynetta Kizer said.
Navy (18-13) won its second straight Patriot League championship to qualify for the tournament.
"This is really exciting," Midshipmen senior captain Erin Edwards said in a story posted on Navy's website. "There is no other way to describe it. We were really anxious and excited to find out who we would play, but it is just super exciting to see Navy pop up on the board."
The winner will play either 10th-seeded Michigan State or seventh-seeded Louisville on Monday at Comcast Center for the right to move on to the regional semifinals in Raleigh, N.C.
Notre Dame got the No. 1 seed in the region. Texas A&M is the third seed.
Maryland players gathered with fans at Heritage Hall, overlooking the Comcast Center court, to watch the selection show on a projection screen. The players wore black, long-sleeve T-shirts with “Fight to Finish” printed in red and gold on the back.
Fans posed for pictures with the Atlantic Coast Conference championship trophy, displayed on a table at the center of the room.
The Terps knew before Monday that they would be hosting the opening round, but they didn’t know their opponent or seed.
Maryland was a No. 2 seed when it won its lone national championship in 2006, but Frese said she’s “not superstitious.”
Last year, Maryland earned a No. 4 seed and beat Saint Francis in the opening round before losing to fifth-seeded Georgetown. It was a game that taught the Terps a lesson — don’t take anything for granted, even games on their home court.
“I don’t think the number in front of us guarantees anything,” Frese said, referring to Maryland’s seed. “We’ll spend a lot of time tonight on Navy.”
Kizer said Maryland has carried with it for a year the memory of losing to Georgetown in College Park. “The coaches have never let us forget that loss,” she said.
The Terps had no seniors on that team. With mostly sophomores and juniors this season, they hope and believe they’re positioned for a deep tournament run.
Maryland is led by ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas, a 6-2 forward who averages 17.4 points per game. Navy is led by 6-0 forward Jade Geif (11.0 points per game).
The Terps — who rank second in the nation in rebounding margin (plus-14.1) — won their second ACC tournament title in four years to clinch an NCAA bid. They were tested in close games this season, coming back from 20 points down in the second half to beat Georgia Tech and then winning in overtime at North Carolina to move to 16-0.
“We’ve learned how to win all season long,” Frese said.
Maryland's worst loss was to Virginia Tech on Jan. 26, when they had 20 turnovers. That defeat was followed by a team meeting and wins in 10 of the next 11 games.