Brenda Frese collected her 500th career victory earlier this week with relative ease, but because the Maryland women’s basketball coach’s milestone unfolded on the road, the celebration featuring prerecorded video congratulations from former players was confined to the visiting locker room.
The accomplishment was acknowledged Saturday at Xfinity Center with far greater fanfare before the Terrapins tipped off against Michigan. Frese was presented a basketball with “500” painted in bright red numbers while receiving a standing ovation.
Victory No. 501 followed shortly thereafter, though it required a decisive fourth-quarter surge from the ninth-ranked Terrapins to secure an 83-69 triumph over the Wolverines.
Guard Taylor Mikesell led Maryland (15-1, 4-1 Big Ten) with 17 points and five assists, and center Shakira Austin added 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds to help extend the Terrapins’ winning streak to three.
Guard Blair Watson (14 points) had a pair of three-pointers in the fourth quarter as Maryland beat the Wolverines for the sixth time in seven meetings. Watson’s second three-pointer provided the Terrapins with a 75-64 cushion with two minutes to play that all but settled the outcome.
Five Maryland players scored in double figures, including 13 from Stephanie Jones and 12 from Kaila Charles, a former Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year at Riverdale Baptist.
The Terrapins shot 52 percent but committed 15 turnovers, although just two came in the second half. They also finished ahead in fast break points, 26-16, and made 9 for 20 (45 percent) from three-point range.
Hallie Thome scored a game-high 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting for Michigan (11-6, 2-3), which played its sixth game against a ranked opponent. The Wolverines won their most recent such matchup, upending then-No. 12 Minnesota, 76-60, in Ann Arbor on Jan. 8.
Guard Amy Dilk (12 points) was the only other Michigan player to score in double figures. The Wolverines shot 38 percent and went 4 for 12 from three-point range.
The teams traded baskets to open the fourth quarter until Maryland got consecutive three-pointers from Blair Watson and Mikesell to expand its lead to 66-58 with 6:49 to play. Watson assisted on Mikesell’s three-pointer, with Frese raising her arm as the ball swished through the net, leading to a Michigan timeout.
Maryland found itself in the largely unfamiliar and certainly uncomfortable position of playing from behind for most of the third quarter, trailing by as many as six. But the Terrapins closed with seven unanswered, including a three-point play from Austin.
The centerpiece of Frese’s highly regard freshman class also had an opportunity for a three-point play earlier in the quarter, but Austin (Riverdale Baptist) missed the bonus foul shot. Mikesell scored the final points of the third quarter to give Maryland a 53-52 lead.
The Terrapins went into halftime leading by a point, 35-34, following a second quarter in which they made five three-pointers, two of which came courtesy of Sara Vujacic, a junior from Slovenia who transferred from community college in Tennessee.
By the end of the first half, Vujacic had logged more minutes (11) than she had in Maryland’s previous five games combined (seven). The 5-foot-11 guard played only one minute in the Terrapins’ 81-63 victory over Nebraska on Tuesday when Frese achieved win No. 500.
Both of Vujacic’s three-pointers on Saturday broke ties, and Charles, Mikesell and Channise Lewis also converted from beyond the arc during a second quarter in which Maryland corrected sloppy ballhandling that had produced 10 turnovers over the game’s first 10 minutes.
Michigan closed the first quarter on a 17-4 run for a 21-14 lead. Seven players scored for the Wolverines, among the few teams in the Big Ten with size and length in the frontcourt to match Maryland.
The Terrapins entered the weekend first in the Big Ten and fifth in the country in rebounding margin (+13.5), and Michigan was second (+11.6). The are the only two programs in the conference to average double-digit rebounding margins.
Maryland was out-rebounded for the first time this season, with the Wolverines holding a 43-41 advantage, including 18-7 offensively in a game with 11 lead changes and a dozen ties.