Welcome to The Diamondback Sports Digest. Every week, we send you a rundown of the latest Maryland athletics news.

Maryland women’s basketball won two crucial games over Illinois and top-seeded Ohio State at this week’s Big Ten tournament to almost certainly secure an at-large NCAA tournament bid and extend its run of 12 straight national tournament appearances.

In this newsletter, we’ll update you on their run to the Big Ten tournament semifinals, a baseball player’s journey to becoming the Terps’ captain, a pair of massive Maryland gymnastics performances and much more.

Maryland women’s basketball extends season with a run to Big Ten tournament semifinals

Maryland women’s basketball players gather during the Terps’ 82-61 win over Ohio State on Mar. 8, 2024. (Rohan Pandit/The Diamondback).

Maryland entered the conference tournament with more than just a shot at the conference title on the line. Coach Brenda Frese’s team sat on the bubble of many projected NCAA tournament fields before traveling to Minneapolis. The Terps needed at least one win to extend their Big Ten tournament stay and season as a whole.

The Terps took down Illinois on Thursday thanks to important performances from their role players. That set up a quarterfinal matchup with top-seeded Ohio State.

Maryland hung with the Big Ten’s top teams for most of each contest during the regular season before eventually falling. Friday was different. The Terps pushed their lead to double digits in the third quarter and continued to extend it in a dominant 82-61 upset win.

Women’s basketball reporters Sam Jane and Olivia Janik were in Minneapolis with the game recap and more on Faith Masonius’ impact against the Buckeyes — she recorded her first double-double of the season in the win. The Terps fell to Nebraska in the semifinals Saturday but look set to receive an at-large NCAA tournament bid thanks to the critical wins over Illinois and now-No. 4 Ohio State.

Kevin Keister earned his long-coveted Maryland baseball captaincy

Kevin Keister bats during Maryland baseball’s 11-7 win over Bryant on March 3, 2024. (Akash Raghu/The Diamondback)

Matt Swope was the first Maryland coach to contact Kevin Keister while he was in high school. Keister committed to the Terps’ soon after meeting with the then-hitting coach and has worked closely with him over the past four years.

The two initially butted heads on how to improve Keister mechanics, but positive results quickly followed. Keister hit .317 as a sophomore after batting .098 as a freshman.

Now the Terps’ head coach, Swope named Keister captain in December and offered him the No. 3 jersey, the Terps’ traditional captain’s number. It’s a role Keister had coveted since arriving in College Park.

Keister never considered leaving Maryland after coach Rob Vaughn’s departure. Now, he hopes to continue the Terps’ upward ascent. Last week, baseball reporter Michael Howes covered Keister’s road to College Park and why Swope named him captain.

“It means the world to me because this university means the world to me,” Keister said. “It’s the only place I want to be.”

Maryland gymnastics boosts NCAA tournament hopes with strong week

Natalie Martin flips during the Maryland Quad on Mar. 1, 2024. (Eric Robinson/The Diamondback)

Maryland gymnastics’ scored a massive 49.400 on bars, its lowest-ranked event so far this season, during one of the best overall performances in program history last week.

The bars score was the Terps’ best in two years. Maryland followed that with another strong performance on the rotation, earning a 49.350 on bars and a 197.050 team score — the seventh-best mark in program history — as it topped No. 21 NC State, Penn and Temple in Philadelphia on Thursday. Another great performance in a win over Towson on Sunday has the Terps, who sat at No. 36, set to shoot up the rankings this week.

The performance was crucial to the Terps’ NCAA tournament hopes. A team’s season-best score isn’t counted toward their national qualifying score, which is how teams are ranked. The top 36 teams earn spots in the national tournament.

Have you ever wondered what a college gymnastics practice entails? Our reporter Lea Glaser went inside the gym beneath Maryland’s public health school and sat in on the Terps’ three-hour session.

Best Bits

  • Maryland track and field’s Jayla Bynum has overcome injuries and tragedy on her long journey to College Park. Now, the shot putter is eyeing an NCAA tournament finals appearance in her final collegiate season.
  • No. 9 Maryland women’s lacrosse took down No. 2 James Madison, 11-8, on Sunday thanks to a late run of five straight goals.
  • Maryland men’s basketball’s Jahmir Young has had a historic individual season, but it’s been tarnished by a lack of team success. That’s due, in part, to the Terps’ struggles at home this season.
  • Maryland men’s lacrosse overcame a sluggish performance Saturday and scraped past a winless Brown in overtime.
  • Maryland football wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer was hired as Virginia Tech’s director of high school relations on Tuesday.

Stat of the week

Maryland women’s basketball took down a top-five opponent for the first time since 2014 in Friday’s 21-point victory over Ohio State.

Game to watch this week

No. 7 Maryland men’s lacrosse hosts No. 5 Virginia on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Terps will look to continue their recent success in the rivalry — having won three straight meetings and five of their last seven. Maryland hasn’t hosted the Cavaliers since 2014.