Cheer the Turtle: Throng greets Maryland women

Updated: April 5, 2006, 11:01 PM ET
Associated Press

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The Maryland Terrapins returned to campus Wednesday with the school's first NCAA women's basketball championship and were greeted by thousands of cheering fans.

Some in the exuberant crowd at the outdoor amphitheater waved signs that read "Fear The Turtle."

Crystal Langhorne recalled that when she signed with Maryland as a high school senior, many friends questioned her decision.

"Look at us now. We're national champions!" she said.

Team members traded "high fives" with fans who reached out to touch Laura Harper's Most Outstanding Player Trophy as she held it above her head.

The Terrapins' 78-75 overtime victory over Duke in Tuesday night's championship game capped a 34-4 season in which they lost twice to Duke before beating the Blue Devils 78-70 for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship.

"They believed in themselves, they believed in each other," said coach Brenda Frese, who took over the program four years ago and rebuilt it around her recruits.

"This is the best team that I've ever been on," said guard Shay Doron, in summing up her junior season.

Athletic director Deobrah Yow said the team has earned a place of honor inside Comcast Center. A piece of the floor from Tuesday's championship game will hang next to one from the floor where the Terrapin men won their only national title in 2002. The women's championship trophy will be placed in the display case at the entrance to the arena.

"There will be a beautiful crystal ball right next to where the men's is," Yow said.

University president C.D. Mote Jr. said the players, coaches, campus sports facilities and fan support will assure the program of success in the future.

"This is the building of a dynasty in women's athletics," he said.

Members of the team were expected to visit the White House Thursday to meet President Bush.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press