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IU struggles to find answer for Kaila Charles


Freshman guard Jaelynn Penn goes to hit the ball out of her Maryland opponent's hand. IU fell to Maryland, 67-54, on Friday, March 2, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Ty Vinson Buy Photos

INDIANAPOLIS — Maryland sophomore guard Kaila Charles, a track runner with high tops on.

That was how IU Coach Teri Moren described Maryland’s best player as Charles scored 24 points on 50 percent shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists in IU's 67-54 loss. Not to mention she guarded senior Tyra Buss and held her in check for most of the game.

At the beginning of the game, senior forward Amanda Cahill was the one checking Charles. 

Charles put a lot of pressure on Cahill, forcing her to pick up three first-half fouls.

“She’s just really fast and athletic,” Cahill said. “We just didn’t handle our rotations very well and she hit some open jump shots.”

Three of those open jump shots came in the first quarter as she totaled six points in the first ten minutes, but the Hoosiers battled to stay in the game and only trailed by one at the end of the first. Cahill had six points of her own.

In the second quarter, Charles put together a stretch where she scored eight-straight points with a combination of drives and more mid-range jumpers. All of this while holding Buss scoreless throughout the game’s first 17 minutes. 

With three fouls on Cahill and a red-hot Charles on a mission to advance to the next round, Moren made the change to put freshman guard Bendu Yeaney on her, an athletic player herself. 

“Bendu is more athletic but she gives up some size,” Moren said. “Going into it we thought we could put different people on her and Bendu got the nod.”

Yeaney held her to just four points on 1-4 shooting and forced her into two turnovers in the third.  

When IU finally found a brief answer with Yeaney, the Terrapins other players starting nailing shots.

In the third quarter’s final 3:40, the Hoosiers were held scoreless and Maryland went on a 10-3 run to take an eight-point lead into the final frame. 

In the game’s final ten minutes, IU’s offense continued to struggle to get into a rhythm, but the Hoosiers didn’t go to four overtimes with Michigan State the night before for nothing.

Despite Charles putting Cahill in foul trouble, Charles began to get into foul trouble herself. She picked up her fourth foul when IU was down eight with 5:16 to go. While she was out, the Hoosiers went on a 5-0 run to cut the lead to three with 4:34 remaining. 

That 5-0 run included a play where Cahill set a screen for Buss to free her up in the corner, Buss hit the three and Cahill got fouled as Maryland’s junior forward Brianna Fraser tried to run through the screen. The shot counted, and Cahill got two free throws and knocked them both down.

“We drew it up and Amanda set a great screen,” Buss said. “The girl pushed Amanda to try to get out to me and I just so happened to hit the three and Amanda got two shots.”

Terrapin Coach Brenda Frese didn’t hesitate to get Charles back in the game after that. As the Hoosier faithful came to life, Charles assisted a pass to sophomore forward Stephanie Jones to put Maryland back up five then hit a jumper on the next possession to give her a team a comfortable seven-point lead with 2:49 left.

“She’s a superb athlete,” Moren said. “She can get to the basket and has the ability to elevate and shoot jump shots. If you back up, she’ll step up and hit the jumper but if you press up, she’ll most likely drive to the hoop. That’s what makes her so difficult.”

As much as Charles’ played a big part in IU’s loss, there seemed to be some fatigue from the Hoosiers after the 60-minute, nearly three hour in total game with the Spartans the night before. 

There was clear disappointment from Cahill, Buss and Moren following the loss, but Moren said she thinks there’s a case for Indiana regarding the NCAA Tournament. 

With no games left to be played at the moment, IU will have to sit back and await the committee’s decision March 12. 

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