The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Brenda Frese coaches on day of father’s death, and No. 8 Maryland loses to No. 11 Michigan, 69-49

Brenda Frese coaches her Terrapins women's basketball team Sunday after learning her father, Bill Frese, died of prostate cancer. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

Brenda Frese stood at the end of a line of staff and players, wearing a maroon suit, black shirt, heels and mask. She stared at the ground with her arms crossed moments before her No. 8 Maryland Terrapins hosted No. 11 Michigan. Pregame video montages and moments of silence inside Xfinity Center are commonplace, but this one was different.

Bill Frese, Brenda’s father, died at his Iowa home Sunday after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer. Brenda saw him a week ago when she drove there after her team played Minnesota in Minneapolis. The patriarch of the family is responsible for Brenda’s involvement in the sport. He used to have the keys to a grade-school gym and would sneak her and her sisters in for practice time.

The Terrapins didn’t look like themselves in a 69-49 loss to the Wolverines as Frese coached with a heavy heart. The loss to Michigan was just the second in 12 meetings and the first in College Park.

“I felt like this is where he would want me to be,” Frese said as tears welled and her voice shook. “I mean, he’s my heart. I think a big piece of who I am, obviously, as a coach and motivating, he’s always been that.

“But I’m really glad that he’s in a better place because he suffered at the end. Cancer sucks, as we all know, so definitely in a better place.”

Frese’s husband, Mark, and twin sons sat courtside and were waiting after her postgame news conference with hugs and flowers.

Maryland (12-5, 4-2 Big Ten) had its worst offensive game of the season and hit some historic lows. The Terps trailed 34-19 at halftime after they scored just three points in the second quarter, the fewest in any quarter in program history. The 19 halftime points were the fewest since at least 2015.

“Our kids really bought into understanding the personnel, understanding their tendencies and then scrambling for each other,” Michigan Coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “And that’s something that we’ve worked on a lot. ‘Okay, if somebody goes here or if we hedge hard on the screen, who’s going to take the next rotation?’ We scrambled really well, and we rebounded out of it.”

Against Michigan (15-2, 6-1), the Terps’ usually potent offense — sixth nationally in points per game — repeatedly turned over the ball and looked out of sync. Drives to the basket that typically produced layups ended in wild attempts that thumped off the backboard.

At one point in the third quarter, Frese simply looked on from the sideline, hand on hip, leaning on the scorer’s table. The 49 points were the fewest Maryland has scored since it was held to 48 against Connecticut on Dec. 3, 2012.

“Michigan did a great job on defense,” Maryland guard Katie Benzan said. “They really prevented us from getting into our rhythm and into our flow, and it really showed. And that’s a credit to them. But it’s also us. We have to go back to the drawing board and find out how to counter that.

“Now other teams will go watch film and scout us and see that we struggled tonight. So we’ve got to go find our counter to try to score against pressure and against that hard edge like Michigan showed tonight.”

Angel Reese was held to nine points, and that was a team high along with Chloe Bibby. Diamond Miller and Mimi Collins added eight points apiece.

With her swagger back, Angel Reese is putting up big numbers for No. 8 Maryland

Defensively, the Terps essentially shut down second-team all-American Naz Hillmon, who had just two points in the first half and a season-low nine for the game. All of the attention on Hillmon, however, opened opportunities for others.

The first quarter was all about Leigha Brown and Maddie Nolan. Brown knocked down jumpers from all over the court, and Nolan started the game 4 for 4 from behind the arc. The duo helped Michigan build a 26-16 lead that got uglier for the Terps once the second period began.

Nolan finished with 21 points, including a career-high seven three-pointers, and Brown added 15.

“I’d say it just kind of developed as I went along,” Nolan said. “I have great teammates and great coaches who draw up plays for me and find ways to get me the ball. These last couple of weeks, especially, they’ve been on me like: ‘Just have confidence in your shot. Even if you miss a couple, the next one’s going in, the next one’s going in.’ ”

Maryland couldn’t make the game competitive in the second half, particularly after a 10-0 Michigan run that gave the Wolverines a 48-23 lead in the third quarter.

Here’s what to know from Sunday’s game:

First-half issues

Turnovers, offensive rebounds and three-point defense spelled doom for the Terps in the first half. Maryland had 13 first-half turnovers that Michigan turned into 10 points. The Wolverines also had seven offensive rebounds in the first half.

The Terps allowed Michigan to go 7 for 15 in the first half from three-point range. Nolan repeatedly got wide-open looks even after she buried several in a row.

“They definitely were [open], and they were knocking them down,” Bibby said. “That’s a credit to them. Maddie, she shot the lights out. And that’s on us. We have to find shooters.

“Honestly, it’s just not good enough. We talked about that. We want to improve our defense. And I think we keep coming in here and keep saying that. We’ve got to get in there and we have to do it. We have to be faster on our rotations. I feel like tonight we were just a step late and they punished us for 40 minutes, and it showed.”

Surgery for Masonius

Faith Masonius had successful surgery on her left ACL on Friday. The procedure went as expected, and no additional damage was found. The junior forward suffered the injury in a noncontact moment against Indiana on Jan. 2.

Owusu and Miller honored

Ashley Owusu and Miller were honored before the game for their participation on the U.S. AmeriCup team during the summer. Michigan’s Hillmon also played on the team that won the gold medal.