By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 18, 2008
DURHAM, N.C., Feb. 17 -- There was no way Maryland was losing this game, not on the day that Coach Brenda Frese gave birth to twin boys.
"We actually joked about it," forward Marissa Coleman said. "We said that Duke played us on the wrong day. They played us on the day our babies were born. . . . It worked out perfectly. She had them in time so she would watch us play, and the twins got a good birthday present."
Unfortunately, because her hospital room didn't have the right cable channel, Frese couldn't watch the fourth-ranked Terrapins take control early and hold on for a 76-69 victory over No. 12 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. She probably had her hands full anyway with Markus William Thomas and Tyler Joseph Thomas, who arrived Sunday morning.
According to a statement released by school officials, Frese, 37, and the babies are healthy and doing well. The boys are the first children for Frese and husband Mark Thomas.
"Today we know the purest form of happiness," Frese said via a text message from her husband. "We can't wait for everyone to get home and meet them. I'm a proud mother and a coach."
Frese undoubtedly wished she could have been here to celebrate Maryland (27-2, 11-1 ACC) sweeping its series with Duke (19-7, 8-3) for the first time since 1993. The Terrapins, who beat the Blue Devils, 85-70, on Jan. 14, hadn't won at Cameron since 2000 and had lost 13 of their past 14 at the venue. She would have been pleased with how Maryland kept its composure late when Duke threatened.
The news of the twins' arrival didn't prove to be a distraction for the players, who learned of the births at the end of the shoot-around Sunday morning.
"It's game day," forward Laura Harper said. "Honestly, I think Coach B really would have wanted us to focus on this game and win this game. That would have been the best thing for her. And now that we did, I think we can circle back and try to get in contact with her."
After blowing away Boston College on Thursday with its potent outside shooting, Maryland returned to its dependable inside game against Duke. Crystal Langhorne, Maryland's senior all-American forward, scored 10 of the Terrapins' first 19 points, mostly on layups.
With Langhorne (25 pounds, 12 rebounds) and Harper (12 points, seven rebounds) having their way underneath the basket, Maryland methodically built its lead. The Terrapins didn't string together big runs. Instead, they steadily pulled away from Duke. They took their largest lead of the game, 31-17, on a layup by Langhorne with 7 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the first half.
"Obviously, every time we set foot on the court, we want to establish an inside-out game," said assistant coach Daron Park, who has been filling in at away games since the doctors quit letting Frese travel. "We got both Crystal and Laura some touches early. That got them rolling a little bit, and we fed off it. We rode it as long as they allowed us to."
Maryland was the more aggressive team early, driving to the basket and drawing fouls. The Terrapins made 33 trips to the foul line overall, scoring 23 points off free throws. Duke attempted 11 foul shots, making eight. Maryland also out-rebounded the Blue Devils, 43-29.
In the second half, Duke's trapping defense rattled Maryland. Point guard Kristi Toliver, in particular, had a difficult time advancing the ball upcourt.
"Obviously they were extremely physical with me," Toliver said. "They did an extremely good job pressuring. I think I got a double-double tonight."
Toliver, who wound up with an ignominious double-double of 12 turnovers and 23 points, atoned for her erratic ballhandling by hitting several crucial shots, including back-to-back three-pointers that seemed to deflate the Blue Devils.
Park said the Terrapins expected the trap from Duke, but didn't react to it as they should have.
"At times we got caught kind of standing and watching," Park said.
The Terrapins' sloppiness allowed the Blue Devils to close the gap. After Wanisha Smith made a layup to pull Duke to 70-65 with just under three minutes remaining, Toliver fumbled away the ball again, giving Duke a chance to seize control. But the Blue Devils squandered their opportunity. Joy Cheek missed a jump shot, and Langhorne grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Cheek. Despite four turnovers in the final 1:15, Maryland escaped with the win.