LOUISVILLE — The Maryland women’s basketball team’s improbable march to the Final Four didn’t go unnoticed by NBA superstar Kevin Durant, a native of Seat Pleasant who attended high school at Montrose Christian in Rockville and always has maintained strong ties to the D.C. area. The MVP candidate for the Oklahoma City Thunder went on Twitter to congratulate the Terrapins on their 76-73 victory over Louisville on Tuesday night at KFC Yum! Center and gave a special nod to Maryland assistant coach Dave Adkins, who held the same position at Montrose when Durant was there.
Big Congrats to the University of Maryland women’s basketball team, Final Four bound! S/O my high school coach Dave Adkins on the sideline
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) April 2, 2014
Maryland (28-6) advanced to the fifth Final Four in program history and the second under Coach Brenda Frese, who led the Terrapins to their first and only NCAA title in 2005-06. Maryland won that championship as a No. 2 seed with Louisville Coach Jeff Walz then serving as Frese’s top assistant. This season as a No. 4, it upset top-seed Tennessee, 73-62, in Sunday’s round of 16 and the third-seeded Cardinals on their home court in front of 14,002 in the Louisville Region.
Alyssa Thomas was voted region most outstanding player after averaging 27.5 points and 13 rebounds in two games. The senior forward was named Associated Press first-team all-American for the second time hours before tip-off of the region final.
Frese gave her players the day off from practice on Wednesday after the team boarded a charter flight from Louisville last night and arrived back in College Park at roughly 4 this morning. The Terrapins are scheduled to practice again Thursday before catching a flight to Nashville, where Maryland will face undefeated Notre Dame, the top seed out of the South Bend Region, on Sunday at 6:30 at Bridgeport Arena.
The winner faces either Connecticut, the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament, or No. 2 seed Stanford in the national championship game Tuesday night. Each team in this season’s Final Four has won at least one national championship, with the Huskies’ eight tied with Tennessee for the most in NCAA history.
Maryland has faced the Fighting Irish, a newcomer to the ACC this season, twice over the last three years. Most recently the Terrapins lost, 87-83, Jan. 27 at Comcast Center in a game in which they rallied from a 22-point deficit to take the lead before falling short. In 2011-12, Notre Dame bounced the Terrapins from the NCAA tournament’s round of eight, 80-49, in the Raleigh Region.
The Fighting Irish will be without one of their top players during the Final Four after Natalie Achonwa tore the ACL in her left knee in an 88-69 win against Baylor in the round of eight Monday night. The senior forward is averaging 14.9 points, third on the team, and leads Notre Dame in rebounding (7.7).