INDIANAPOLIS — For Maryland’s final three-point attempt of the outing, graduate guard Katie Benzan took a shot from the right corner to see her try to miss the rim completely. For the first time this season, Maryland failed to make a single 3-point shot. In their 62-51 loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Terrapins missed 12 of three attempts.
“We are disappointed with the defeat; it’s a feeling for us that we’re not used to,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said in the postgame press conference. “I think it shows how great the league has been throughout the season.”
Friday afternoon, it didn’t matter that Indiana fell from fifth to its current 14th spot in the AP’s top 25 in the past two and a half weeks. A torrid losing streak saw the Hoosiers end the year with just one win in their last five games, but there’s something about tournament play that calls for forgetting the mirrors.
After beating 13th-seeded Rutgers 66-54 in their conference tournament opener, No. 5 seed Indiana (21-7, 11-5) came on again to play against No. 4 seed Maryland (21-8, 13-4 Big Ten), which earned a double bye to the quarterfinals.
Friday was the third time the Terps and Hoosiers faced each other; the two sides split the season series. The Hoosiers won the first game in overtime on Jan. 2, but Maryland tied things at home on Feb. 25 in their last game before the tournament.
“Today our shots just didn’t fall,” said graduate striker Chloe Bibby. “You have these games and you have to find another way to win. In the end, it’s survive or go home.
There was plenty of red at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Friday afternoon; Maryland’s traveling outfit sat behind the team’s bench, but the Crimson dominated in what fans made it feel like a home game in Indiana.
With the shot clock off in the final seconds of the third quarter, Maryland junior guard Ashley Owusu was given the go-ahead to score the frame’s final points. But Indiana’s defense, gasping throughout the game, stole the ball and raced downfield to turn what would have been a one-possession game into a six-point lead. It was perhaps one of the moments that deflated a spirited and resilient Terps team.
The last time these two teams met, graduate guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary and junior forward Mackenzie Holmes both struggled. Cardaño-Hillary had just three points, zero steals and two assists on 1-of-10 shooting from the field. Holmes, who has missed time this season due to injury, had 11 points and six rebounds.
But in Game 3, Cardaño-Hillary had nine points, eight rebounds and four steals, while Holmes contributed to a team-high 17 points. Grace Berger also gave her team 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“I can’t say enough about Holmes’ toughness, everything she’s been through in terms of injuries,” Frese said. “She was the X factor tonight. The difference was Holmes.
For Maryland, Owusu had a game-high 21 points. But aside from junior guard and sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese, who recorded a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds, no one else scored more than four points.
“I thought our kids got defensive in a big way,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “Our goal at the start of the game was to be as disruptive as possible. We weren’t going to leave Benzan because of his ability to shoot so well…I’m so proud of these guys in executing the game plan .
Three things to know
1. The Terps had their first outing of the Big Ten tournament. With the loss, Maryland won’t play again until the NCAA Tournament, which begins March 18. The loss also marks the first time the Terps will not make the Big Ten Tournament Finals since joining the conference. Indiana ended Maryland’s seven-game finals streak. The Terps have also won the tournament five times out of those seven appearances.
“In 2014, our ACC team lost in the first round and then went to the Final Four,” Frese said. “So it doesn’t make me nervous or anxious about what lies ahead if we react the way we are capable of.”
2. Ashley Owusu played off the bench, but the Terps couldn’t find the lead. The Maryland bench finished the game with 25 points, 21 of which came from Owusu. The game marked Owusu’s first double-digit performance since January 27, when the Terps faced Rutgers. In this match, Owusu had 17 points. The junior guard’s 21 points mark the first time she has scored more than 20 since Dec. 2, when she scored 22 against Miami. With about six minutes remaining, Owusu hit back-to-back baskets to bring Maryland within five points of Indiana. However, Indiana didn’t let go, leading to the Terps’ early exit.
Junior Redshirt striker Mimi Collins also added four points off the bench.
“I’m not going to say we were rushing,” Owusu said of his side’s attacking flow. “We just didn’t shoot the ball as well as we could. I don’t think it’s like us. I wouldn’t say we were rushing the shots.
3. Indiana played a tough defense and Maryland couldn’t find a way to convert from 3 points. The Terps shot 0 for 12 from behind the arc, with Bibby making a team-high three attempts, each from deep. Heading into that game, the Terps’ season-low 3-pointers in a single game were three, against Miami, Rutgers, and Indiana the first time those two teams met. Also of note, Indiana didn’t allow Benzan, who leads the team with 67 3-pointers this season, a single point for the entire game. Benzan’s zero points mark the first time an opponent has held her scoreless in her two seasons at Maryland. The last time the Terps missed every 3-point attempt was in 2018 against NC State, according to the Big Ten.
“You have to do open layups,” Bibby said. “You have to make open shots if you want to win. We didn’t do that today, but I was happy with how we strengthened our defense in the second half.