There were 31 seconds remaining in the WNIT Championship game between IU and Virginia Tech in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, and senior forward Amanda Cahill stepped up to the free-throw line. Her teammates stood behind her, the crowd was on their feet and Cahill made both free throws.
Then, 22 seconds remained, and senior guard Tyra Buss went to the free-throw line, teammates behind her, crowd on their feet. Buss made 1-2, but that didn’t matter.
Less than 10 minutes later, Cahill and Buss went up to that same free-throw line, but this time not to shoot free throws. They walked past the charity stripe, climbed a ladder and cut down the net.
The Hoosiers had defeated the Hokies, 65-57, and won the WNIT Championship.
Each player cut down a piece of the net with applause from the crowd before the seniors, but when Cahill and Buss began the climb, the crowd applauded them the most.
Cahill had already been named WNIT all-tournament team and Buss the WNIT MVP, and both were already given the trophy with the team. The top of that ladder was the final destination of Buss’ and Cahill’s careers at IU.
“It’s definitely a bitter-sweet feeling,” Cahill said. “We’re obviously really honored that we got the chance to keep playing and got to go out on a win, but it’s going to be sad taking (their jerseys) off and knowing we won’t be putting it back on.”
Even though they won’t be putting their IU jerseys back on, what they have accomplished and set up for the future is something IU Coach Teri Moren said she could not describe in words.
“It’s really hard,” Moren said. “I don’t think there are any words that are sufficient enough because they have meant so much.”
Buss and Cahill have started every single game during their four years at IU and are the winningest senior class in IU history with 82 career wins. Other than the many individual records the two have earned, they helped bring IU to the NCAA Tournament in 2015, which was the first time in 14 years, then won their first-round game — the first time in 33 years.
When looking at this season, though, Buss and Cahill took an inexperienced group that began the year 8-12 and won the WNIT Championship.
Freshman guard Bendu Yeaney said Buss and Cahill taught her to always stay positive and to always come to practice and work hard.
“That’s what they do every single day in practice,” Yeaney said. “It’s impacting me in practices, and you can see it in games now, too.”
Yeaney finished with 14 points on the day, including seven fourth-quarter points.
“I’m so happy she said what she did on the example those two set,” Moren said on Yeaney’s comments about Buss and Cahill. “You want your best players to be your hardest workers. They’ve left their legacy.”
Their legacy has not only helped the team win the WNIT Championship but has also helped the women’s basketball program gain its most fans at a game in history. Buss and Cahill said they both always wanted people in the upper deck at one of their games. They got that wish as 13,007 fans came — some in the balcony — and watched their careers come to an end.
As they both stood atop the ladder cutting down the net, they faced the five NCAA Championship banners that are hung in Assembly Hall from the men’s team. Now, any time Buss and Cahill return to Bloomington, they will see a banner hung for women’s basketball, proud of how their careers ended.
“Not a lot of people can say they went out in their college career with a win, and we were able to do that,” Buss said. “We were able to hang a banner, and Amanda and I will come back and be able to look up there and see that we helped get that banner and win the championship.”
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