TAMPA, Fla. - Brenda Frese and her Maryland Terrapins aren't just happy to be back in the Women's Final Four for a second consecutive season. They plan on sticking around through the weekend and playing on Tuesday night for the national championship.
For that to happen they'll have to knock off two-time defending champion Connecticut on Sunday night.
"Aren't we tired of it?" Frese said of UConn's dominance. "Everyone's rooting for us. Some new stories, our sport needs it to be quite honest. I know there are a lot of people out there cheering and want to see Maryland beat UConn.
"For us and our sport it would be a great thing."
After the Terrapins won the national championship in 2006, they didn't make it back to the Final Four until last season with star Alyssa Thomas. Frese graduated five seniors, including Thomas, and few thought they'd be back so soon.
Frese said she started believing this team could be something special midway through its undefeated run through its first year in the Big Ten Conference.
"This is a team that no one expected to be here," Frese said. "To accomplish what they did — we were written off after Alyssa graduated and our five seniors. It is a different mentality coming back with this team.
"Last year's team, that was their goal, they were happy to be here. That's not the goal for this year's team."
Lexie Brown, a 5-9 sophomore guard, is Maryland's top player. She was named to the All-Big Ten first team, voted Most Outstanding Player at the Big Ten tournament and is one of three Terrapins to average in double figures in scoring.
"She's accomplished a lot more in her two years in college than I achieved in my whole college career," said her father Dee Brown, a former NBA player.
Making the Final Four feels like a rite of spring for the Huskies lately as the team has appeared in the past eight national semifinals, winning four championships. Auriemma has said he believes the Huskies' dominance is good for the sport.
It's certainly a role the they relish.
"They come to Connecticut with that expectation in mind and they embrace that role and survive and thrive," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
Winning a third championship in a row for the second time in school history would give Auriemma 10 in his career, tying him with UCLA men's coach John Wooden for the most titles in college basketball.
Led by Breanna Stewart, the two-time most outstanding player of the Final Four, the Huskies have run through the NCAA tournament. They won their first three games by an average of 47.6 points. Dayton gave UConn a bit of a challenge and actually led at the half. It was the first time since 2013 that UConn trailed at the break. Connecticut still won by 21 points.