Thousands of cellphone lights illuminated the dark Xfinity Center court Saturday as Maryland women’s basketball prepared to announce its starting lineup against then-No. 3 Iowa and star player Caitlin Clark.

The opening notes of Post Malone’s “Something Real” blared through the arena during the Terps’ hype video and silenced the visiting fans chanting “let’s go Hawks.”

The crowd’s roar only increased as each Maryland starter was announced.

Despite losing to Iowa 93-85 after its aggressive comeback fell short, Maryland coach Brenda Frese and her players loved the energy from its first sellout crowd since 2016 and hope to see it replicated the rest of the season.

“I’ve never seen that many people in a gym,” Jakia Brown-Turner said.

Saturday’s loss was the Terps’ fourth sold-out game in Xfinity Center, which has served as their home court since 2002. The previous sellouts occurred against UConn in 2016 and former ACC foes Duke and North Carolina, both in 2007.

“The crowd was absolutely awesome tonight,” Frese said. “We loved it and we hope that everyone continues to keep coming back and keep supporting this team.”

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In the student section, both women’s basketball fanatics and new fans embraced the excitement.

Annie Chen, a senior computer science major, has attended every Maryland women’s basketball home game since her sophomore year. She reserved her ticket for Saturday night’s game as soon as she saw the email in late 2023. She knew the tickets would be in demand.

She arrived at Xfinity Center about 5 p.m., three hours before the tipoff to secure a seat at the front of the student section.

“Every single gate had such a long line,” Chen said. “I have never seen fans for any single men’s or women’s game line up that far in advance for a game, so this is absolutely crazy.”

Applied economics graduate student Jay Maharath had only attended one Maryland game before Saturday night’s matchup. He usually prefers professional basketball, but wanted to see if the Terps could stop Clark, who’s closing in on the NCAA all-time scoring record.

[No. 3 Iowa’s Caitlin Clark draws and quiets Xfinity Center crowd as Maryland loses, 93-85]

Even without the draw of the Iowa superstar, Maharath said he would “for sure” return to Xfinity Center this season to watch Maryland again.

The Terps trailed 52-38 at the half, but kept the student section on their side. Clark and the rest of the Hawkeyes had to score with screaming Maryland students right behind the basket in the second half.

“Whatever we can do to try to stop them, I think we are doing a pretty good job here,” Maharath said.

Brown-Turner and Shyanne Sellers credited Maryland fans like Chen and Maharath for their energy and support during the Terps’ 23-3 run in the third quarter.

Even when they were down by as many as 18 points, fans didn’t walk out, Sellers said.

“When [Maryland fans] decide to be a town and want to come together, they can make any atmosphere electric. They can be the best fans in the country,” she said. “We need them to continue to support us and continue to do that.”