When Chloe Pavlech got back to the team room following Maryland’s 72-52 victory over Quinnipiac in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament Saturday afternoon, the freshman point guard discovered a note and DVD in her locker.
Former Terrapins point guard Kristi Toliver had left the items to serve as motivation for Pavlech following the first NCAA tournament game of her career, in which she had five assists and a steal with two turnovers, but missed 6 of 7 shots.
The DVD was of Maryland’s 81-70 win against North Carolina in the Final Four in 2006, when Toliver, then a freshman, had 12 turnovers. But in the NCAA championship game, she hit a tying three-pointer against Duke in the closing seconds of regulation, and the Terrapins went on to triumph in overtime, 78-75.
“She was just saying to me that freshmen point guards can do special things so make your own history,” Pavlech said.
This season in many ways has been historic for Maryland, which has withstood more injuries than at any time since Coach Brenda Frese arrived 11 seasons ago. The Terrapins still managed to earn a No. 4 seed in the Bridgeport Region after finishing second in the ACC during the regular season, all of which contributed to Frese being selected conference coach of the year in voting by her peers.
Frese also has played all three of her freshmen extensively this season, with Pavlech averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. Forward Malina Howard is playing almost 25 minutes per game, and Tierney Pfirman has logged 20 minutes per game, although she is out indefinitely while recovering from mononucleosis.
Maryland’s next game is Monday night against fifth-seeded Michigan State.
“We expected them to be nervous, their first NCAA tournament game,” junior forward Alyssa Thomas said of the freshmen. “I think they handled themselves very well, and I expect them to continue on.”