By a normal team’s standards, back-to-back losses are a somewhat standard occurrence.
But the level of success Maryland women’s basketball has sustained under coach Brenda Frese makes the Terps’ defeats to Purdue on Feb. 15 and at Minnesota on Sunday something of an anomaly. Before that, it had been more than three years since the team dropped two games in a row.
Frese has said the final stretch of the season would be brutal, and it only continues, as No. 13 Maryland will attempt to snap its losing streak at Michigan on Thursday. The Wolverines are also on a two-game skid, having fallen out of the top 25 this week.
“Every team goes through their little droughts, and we’re just going through ours right now,” guard Ieshia Small said. “The mentality is still the same.”
Maryland’s last consecutive losses came against Washington State and Notre Dame in November and December 2014. The Terps (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) had never dropped two straight in conference play since joining the Big Ten, nor had they lost more than two conference games total in any single season.
The manner in which Maryland has lost has made matters more difficult. Against Purdue, the Terps led by 10 points halfway through the third quarter and then lost by 10. Three days later, the Golden Gophers made 14-of-24 three-point attempts en route to a 19-point drubbing.
Guard Kristen Confroy said the Terps could get themselves in trouble if they worry about the losses and neglect their upcoming tests.
“This team is a really competitive locker room,” Frese said. “They hate to lose and they love to win. No one wants to feel this way, but I think this is the standard we’ve set here. We own it and want that responsibility on our shoulders.”
It’s normal for the Terps to take Monday off, especially after they play two contests in four days between Thursday and Sunday. Frese said every Monday serves as a chance to not only rest the team’s thin squad, but also evaluate where the team is.
While Frese said this Monday’s rest wasn’t any different from the others, Confroy said the day off helped her refresh.
“Yes, losing stinks and nobody wants to do it,” Confroy said, “but the reality is, we keep moving on and keep getting better, and that’s what it’s all about.”
When the Terps visit Michigan, they’ll take on a team seeking to remain in NCAA tournament contention while playing in an emotional atmosphere on its Senior Night.
Small said Maryland’s mistakes in its previous two losses were made by the players, and after seeing how to fix those errors, the Terps are prepared to start another winning streak Thursday.
“At the end of the day, it’s only two games that we lost,” Small said. “A lot of teams have lost way more games than that. This is just something that’s going to give us encouragement.”