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The Big Twenty: Maryland women's basketball wins 2006 NCAA championship

The Big Twenty: Maryland women's basketball wins 2006 NCAA championship

For the next three weeks, NBC Sports Washington will be rolling out the 20 biggest stories in DMV sports in the past 20 years. Here is No. 20. 

If you were looking for local championships in the first decade of the 21st century, College Park was your best bet. 
 
Maryland’s men’s basketball team won the NCAA championship in 2002 with an older team of experienced veterans. Four years later, the Terrapin women accomplished the same feat in a much different way. 
 
The baby Terrapins started two sophomores and two freshmen, including future WNBA standouts Crystal Langhorne and Kristi Toliver, to win the program’s first national championship. As head coach Brenda Frese, herself just 35 at the time, told ESPN on the court after her team won the title game at TD Garden in Boston, “age is just a number.”
 
It was quite the turnaround for a program that had fallen on hard times. While the men were winning the title in 2002, the women’s basketball team missed the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in nine years. It was the last for longtime coach Chris Weller, who had led the Terrapins to the Final Four twice and the Elite Eight four times. 
 
Frese was hired to turn things around and she did it in just four years with an infusion of young talent. Maryland went from 10-18 in Frese’s first season in 2002-03 to an incredible 34-4 in 2005-06. 
 
The Terrapins grew as the season went on. They lost to perennial powerhouse Tennessee in November and were blown out by ACC regular-season champ Duke in College Park on Jan. 8, 2006. 
 
It was a balanced team inside and out. Langhorne led the way with 17.2 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game. Marissa Coleman, a local product from St. John’s High in the District, lived up to expectations with 13.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. 
 
Junior Shay Doron was the experienced upperclassmen and the only junior or senior among the top seven players. She scored 13.4 points per game and led with 4.5 assists. Toliver knocked down 40 percent of her 3-point attempts and was a revelation in big moments. Nothing fazed her. Sophomore Laura Harper was the unsung hero at 11.5 points and 7.2 rebounds. She was MVP of the Final Four.  
 
But Maryland wasn’t quite considered in league with the very best teams in the country. No one thought a team that young was ready to win it all. The Terrapins had two wins over a ranked Boston College and beat Michigan State when it was in the top 10. Maryland also beat Virginia Tech when it was on the edge of the top 25, too. 
 
But it took a 98-95 win at No. 1 North Carolina in February to really get everyone’s attention. And while the Terrapins immediately lost the next game again to Duke by 10 points at Cameron Indoor Stadium, you started to wonder what the ceiling was for this group. 
 
The Tar Heels finished 13-1 in conference play and Duke and Maryland tied for second at 12-2 with the Blue Devils owning both wins. But the Terrapins got revenge in the ACC tournament semifinals with a 78-70 win over Duke. It was not the last time they’d play. 
 
North Carolina beat Maryland in the ACC final, but the Terrapins entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed with a 28-4 record. The only losses were to the No. 1 seeds Duke and North Carolina and to Tennessee, which won the SEC and was a 2 seed also. 
 
The draw went well. Maryland was in the same region as No. 1 seed and Big 10 champ Ohio State, which lost in the second round. Maryland took care of No. 3 seed Baylor by 19 points in the Sweet 16 and outlasted No. 5 seed Utah in the Elite Eight. Then came the hard part: North Carolina and then Duke in the Final Four. 
 
Harper had 24 points against the Tar Heels and Maryland opened up a double-digit lead in the second half before holding off a North Carolina rally to advance to the championship game against the Blue Devils. 
 
It was an instant classic, one of the best women’s basketball title games ever played. Toliver hit the cold-blooded game-tying 3-pointer on a cross-over dribble with six seconds to go. 
 
Duke took the lead three times in overtime, but Toliver drew a late foul with 34 seconds to go and knocked down both free throws to take a 76-75 lead. After a defensive stop, Coleman hit two more free throws and the Terrapins held on.
 
In the years ahead, Langhorne was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. Harper went 10th that same year. Coleman was the second pick in 2009 and Toliver went third. She’s still hitting big baskets as the veteran point guard for the WNBA champion Mystics. 
 
In 2018, Langhorne was a key player off the bench for the Seattle Storm when they beat the Mystics in the WNBA Finals. Coleman, too, has had a long WNBA career and still plays for the New York Liberty. Harper is an assistant coach at High Point now. But it started for all of them in College Park with a young, talented team that proved to be the best in the country.  
 

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Top 40 recruit Shyanne Sellers commits to Maryland

Top 40 recruit Shyanne Sellers commits to Maryland

Sunday afternoon was very exciting for the Terps women’s basketball team.

Top 40 recruit Shyanne Sellers announced on Twitter that she has committed to The University of Maryland. 

“First of all, I would like to thank my parents, Coach Carlos, Smac family, and all the coaches that have recruited me throughout the years, without them I would not be in the position I am in today. Lastly, would like to thank Coach Frese and the whole Maryland staff for giving me this amazing opportunity to continue playing the game that I love. I am excited to announce that I have decided to further my academic and athletic career to The University of Maryland, Go Terps!” Sellers wrote on Twitter. 

Sellers is the first commitment in the 2021 recruiting class. 

The 6'0 guard is ranked by ESPN as the No. 34 player in the 2021 class and No. 12 player from the state of Ohio.

This past season as a junior at Aurora High School in Aurora, Ohio Sellers averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, 2.3 steals and two blocks.

Her father Brad Sellers played at Ohio State and was selected as a first round draft pick by the Chicago Bulls. As a member of the Bulls he has the opportunity to play alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. 

Her father took to Twitter to express how proud his is of his daughter. 

"Today, I want to say how proud of my daughter Shyanne Sellers and her verbal commitment to attend and play b-ball for the University of Maryland. We all are very thankful for the opportunity that she has been given! From rec league in Aurora, to SMAC Ballers, and now the Big 10!" he wrote on Twitter. 

Brad Sellers currently serves as the three-time mayor of  Warrensville Heights, Ohio.

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Report: Yale grad transfer Jordan Bruner considering Maryland among final three

Report: Yale grad transfer Jordan Bruner considering Maryland among final three

With the Terps facing the potential losses of two key scorers to the NBA Draft, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Yale is considering joining the Maryland roster for his final season of NCAA eligibility.

According to Evan Daniels of 247Sports, Bulldogs power forward Jordan Bruner has narrowed down his list of preferred transfer destinations to Maryland, Alabama and Baylor. ESPN ranked Bruner the third-best graduate transfer in the country following a season in which he led the Ivy League with 9.2 rebounds per game to go with 10.9 points and 3.7 assists.

The Terps are expected to lose Anthony Cowan Jr. (graduating) and Jalen Smith (NBA Draft) after claiming their first share of the Big 10 regular-season title in program history this season. Forward Ricky Lindo Jr. also entered the transfer portal. Smith started 30 games as a forward and led UMD with 10.5 rebounds per game.

Bruner originally declared for the NBA Draft on March 13 but reconsidered his position after the coronavirus pandemic put the sports world at a standstill. Five days after announcing his intent to go pro, he put his name in the transfer portal.

Per the Yale Daily News, Bruner received calls from 25 different programs within three hours of having his name in the portal. He reportedly trimmed his original list of 50 schools down to six—Maryland, Arkansas, Baylor, Gonzaga, Alabama and Louisville—before narrowing it down to the three Tuesday.

Injuries hit Bruner hard throughout his Yale career, including two meniscus tears—one of which forced him to miss all of his sophomore season. However, the 2020 All-Ivy First Team selection finally stayed healthy this year and only sat two games due to injury.

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