INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For seven years, Maryland was either Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament champion or runner-up. This year, No. 5 seeded Indiana beat the No. 4 seeded Terrapins 62-51 in the quarterfinals.
“Maryland has always been the helm,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “They’ve always been the helm. I think that’s for everyone in this league, and if they tell you they’re not, then I think they’re lying.”
Indiana faced the Terrapins twice in the regular season. First, the Hoosiers beat them at home in January then lost at College Park before facing them a week later.
“It’s a big win, but at the end of the day, it’s just the quarterfinals,” said senior guard Grace Berger. “We have two more games. Our goal is to win the Big Ten championship and then we’ll worry about the NCAA Tournament.”
Indiana didn’t allow Maryland to score a single three-pointer as the Terrapins went 0 for 12 from the three-point line. Maryland’s offensive struggle followed them down the field as they shot 31.4 percent overall for their lowest percentage in a Big Ten tournament game since 2015.
Indiana, however, had an electrifying game both on offense and defense. Junior forward Mackenzie Holmes had his best performance since returning from a left knee injury in February, scoring a team-high 17 points as part of Indiana’s 40% shooting from the field.
Holmes said her rehabilitation journey had been very difficult and she was not ready to share what her exact injury was.
“There’s been a lot of frustration on my side and on their (Hoosiers) side as well, and I think it’s just staying with that and staying the course and just knowing that every game is going to get better and better,” he said. said Holmes.
Moren said she thinks her team’s defense is excellent. The Hoosiers held graduate student guard Katie Benzan, who typically averages 10.5 points per game, to zero points.
“We knew again that we were going to have to be very special on that side of the ball,” Moren said. “Our mentality was, one, to be aggressive; two, to take calculated risks in terms of blitzing and trying to get into the gaps and just trying to be active with our hands.”
Indiana has always hung its hat on defensive play. Berger said that although their defense failed them in the latter part of the playoffs, today was different.
“It was a big priority to come back in this playoffs to really hold teams back, whether we’re shooting well or not, we still have a chance to win if we can keep that defensive intensity going,” Berger said.
Both teams started the first quarter with a pair of free throws. Graduate goaltender Nicole Cardaño-Hillary scored the Hoosiers’ first field goal and had four interceptions in the first half.
Near the end of the three minutes, Berger capitalized on two mid-range jumpers as part of four straight goals for the Hoosiers.
Off senior guard Aleksa Gulbe’s missed shot, Holmes made a layup on his own offensive rebound with 24 seconds left.
Maryland freshman guard Shyanne Sellers responded with a jumper to end the first period. Hoosiers led 18-13 after shooting 50% from the field.
Gulbe opened the quarter with the Hoosiers’ first shot on an offensive rebound. Berger showed his wheels and hit a full field layup giving Indiana a 9-point lead before the media timeout.
Maryland responded with four in a row. Meanwhile, Indiana entered a more than two-minute drought.
Holmes brought the Hoosiers back by making two layups and finishing the half with 10 points.
Indiana headed to the locker room with a 34-25 lead. Neither team had three-pointers in the first half, but they produced solid rebounding play. Maryland finished the half with 21 rebounds. Indiana was right behind with 20 rebounds.
Cardaño-Hillary opened the Hoosiers’ second half by sweeping the game’s first three-pointer to give Indiana a 10-point lead.
That double-digit cushion disappeared when Indiana turned the ball over three times in just under three minutes and went into a three-and-a-half-minute drought.
Maryland capitalized on the falling Hoosiers to make a 6-0 run before Holmes’ layup ended Indiana’s drought.
Maryland brought their deficit back to a bucket, but Holmes flew down the field for the and-1, play-critical 3-pointer.
Berger finished the quarter with a full-court layup as the buzzer sounded giving Indiana a 47-41 lead heading into the final period.
The Terrapins continued to nibble, but Indiana cheered louder as sophomore guard Chloe Moore-McNeil hit a long three-pointer for the 9-point lead with less than eight minutes left.
“We have all the confidence in the world in Chloe, and I think she just needed to have that in herself and watch her do what she does on the pitch – her length, her ability to drive in the lane, but also his ability to shoot and defend – helped us so much,” said Holmes.
Despite five turnovers in seven minutes and a four-minute drought, Indiana held on to eliminate Maryland and earn a ticket to the semifinals against No. 1 seed Ohio State.
Indiana outshot the Terrapins 42-39 led by Gulbe and Berger’s 11 rebounds per play.
Next, Indiana takes on No. 1 seed Ohio State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. It will air on BTN.
“They’re probably one of my favorite teams to coach just because of the leadership, because of the experience they have,” Moren said.
Indiana Women’s Basketball Related Stories
- HOOSIERS CUT NO. RUTGERS AT 13 SEEDS IN THE BIG TEN TOURNAMENT: A whopping five three-pointer from graduate guard Ali Patberg led No. 5 seeded Indiana to knock out No. 13 seeded Rutgers from the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Hoosiers will face fourth-seeded Maryland on Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals. CLICK HERE.
- FIVE HOOSIERS WIN TOP TEN HONOURS: All five Indiana starters earned All-Big Ten honors after finishing with a 19-7 regular season record and earning a No. 5 seed in the Big Ten tournament. This team scores the most honors in a single season in the history of the Hoosier program. CLICK HERE.
- HOOSIERS FALLS AT NO. 14 IN AP SURVEY: The Indiana Hoosiers are now tied with Arizona for 14th in the Associated Press Top 25. Five Big Ten teams are ranked one after the other, with Indiana bringing up the rear in the conference. CLICK HERE.