No. 10 Indiana made program history in College Park on Wednesday, winning its first away game against Maryland. No. 3 Iowa joined the club on Saturday night after staving off Maryland’s comeback and winning its first matchup at Xfinity Center, 93-85.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been happy in this press room,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said after her team’s victory.
Before this week, Maryland women’s basketball was 12-0 at home against the pair of Midwestern powerhouses since joining the Big Ten conference in 2014.
The Terps entered this season with a record of 72-6 at home against Big Ten opponents, signifying how they’ve dominated the conference since joining. Maryland won six regular season titles and five conference championships in its first nine seasons in the Big Ten.
However, the era of Maryland supremacy has come to an end. The Terps have lost three conference home games this season — accounting for a third of their losses at Xfinity Center since joining the Big Ten. As the rest of the conference improved, Maryland hasn’t been able to maintain its dominance.
This year, the Terps are 4-7 in conference play and sit 10th in Big Ten standings. Even if the team can improve its record in the final month of the regular season, it will likely be Maryland’s worst showing since joining the Big Ten.
“I think you just have to have perspective, you know, we’re in a bit of adversity right now and you know it reveals your character,” Frese said Wednesday night after her team’s loss to Indiana.
The Terps’ recent stretch has illustrated just how much of a battle every Big Ten contest is. They’ve lost four straight games for the first time since the 2002-2003 season — Frese’s first year with the team.
Unlike previous seasons, it’s not just the usual top teams challenging the Terps.
Penn State finished 12th in last year’s conference standings, but five offseason additions from the transfer portal, including former Terp Ashley Owusu, revitalized the team. The Nittany Lions are now fourth in the Big Ten and scored 112 points in their recent win over the Terps.
In its last two games at home against top-10 teams in Indiana and Iowa, Maryland surrendered large early leads to its opponents. The Terps fought back in the third quarter with a renewed sense of energy on both occasions, but the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes both shut down their comeback victory hopes.
Maryland still has time to right itself with less than a month until the end of the regular season, but four of its final seven games are against teams with better records in conference play and most of those contests are on the road.
Even the teams at the bottom of the conference rankings can pose a challenge.
Frese pointed out that Rutgers, the Terps’ next opponent, won its first Big Ten game of the season on Saturday by beating Nebraska at home to highlight the competitiveness of the conference. Maryland will hope to end its worst stretch in more than 20 years in Piscataway on Tuesday, but the Terps’ previous Big Ten dominance has already faded.
“The conference is the toughest it’s ever been. I would put it against any conference in the country” she said. “On any given night, anyone can beat anyone and that’s how tough the schedule, the conference is from top to bottom.”