TAMPA, Fla. -- Laurin Mincy had played her best basketball of the season in the NCAA tournament games leading up to the Women’s Final Four.
On Sunday night, Maryland’s lone senior was off her game -- and so were the Terrapins in an 81-58 loss to Connecticut in the semifinal matchup.
Maryland struggled to put together an offensive rhythm as did their leader, and the Huskies pounced.
Entering the semifinals, Mincy had been leading the Terrapins in postseason play with a 17.8 scoring average while shooting 63.2 percent from the field.
“It was a tough night,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “She was very anxious. I thought nerves got the best of her. When you look at six turnovers by Laurin Mincy, that’s not a stat line you see this season. That is tough because I could tell where she was in the game and it was hurting the team but she’s carried the team throughout this entire season.”
When Mincy exited the final game of her five-year career with 1:51 remaining, Frese was waiting on the sidelines with a warm embrace.
“I couldn't be more proud of Laurin Mincy and the legacy she's left. She’s given everything to this young team,” Frese said.
It was undoubtedly Mincy’s leadership that had gotten Maryland to its second consecutive Final Four. Despite losing five seniors -- including All-American Alyssa Thomas -- from last year’s squad, the Terrapins posted an undefeated mark in Big Ten play and claimed a league championship in their inaugural year. And they entered Sunday’s game in the midst of a program-record 28-game win streak.
“Obviously, we came down here wanting to get this win, shock the world,” Mincy said. “You know UConn’s a great team, and when you go against them you’ve got to be ready to play the whole 40 minutes, and I think we got deflated. I’m disappointed, but I’m proud of how my teammates competed throughout the game and all this season.”
Mincy’s road to this point had not been easy. Two ACL injuries, including one which ended her junior season after only five games, made the native of Newark, New Jersey have to work even harder to come back and play at the level everyone knew she once could.
“When you talk about to watch her this season grow into what she became for us, a leader by example, a leader vocally, but you look at the fact that she's a fighter,” Frese said. “All the adversity she went through over the last five years and to be able to lead this team to new heights and season that nobody expected is something I’m going to cherish forever in terms of her legacy.”
Mincy’s teammates agreed.
“She’s been a great leader,” Maryland sophomore guard Lexie Brown said. “She had a lot of adversity during her career here and a lot of people could have rolled over and said, ‘With my knees I’m not going to be the player I used to be.’ She worked extremely hard to get back to who she was before the knee injuries and to see her work so hard to push us every day -- I think that’s the legacy she’s going to leave with us.”
And, one thing is for sure: Her teammates will miss her.
“Tonight was tough just because it's the last game with her, so it hurts my heart,” redshirt junior Brene Moseley said. “But I know she's going to go on to bigger and better things and we're going to continue keep doing what we're doing here at Maryland.”