A missed 3-pointer from TCU sophomore guard Jayde Woods with about four minutes to go in the second quarter leads to an offensive rebound by the Horned Frogs’ junior guard Dakota Vann.
The ball is knocked loose, leading to a scrum of bodies fighting for it on the floor. IU senior forward Amanda Cahill somehow emerges from the chaos, still sitting on the floor, ball in hands.
She fires it ahead to senior guard Tyra Buss who nails a fast break 3-pointer, capping off a seven-point Hoosier run. The hometown Hoosier crowd, 7,815 strong, erupts into a deafening howl.
The series of events was just one of many instances of the IU women’s basketball team converting off of their opponents’ turnovers in the Hoosiers’ 71-58 victory over TCU in the semifinals of the WNIT on Wednesday.
It was just more defense leading to offense. IU’s recipe for success throughout their WNIT run has set them up for the championship game at 3 p.m. on Saturday against Virginia Tech at home.
The Hoosiers’ defense has been a collective effort as their guards have hounded opponents around the perimeter and their bigs have battled ferociously underneath. However, it only goes as far as Cahill, their senior anchor, takes them.
That was never more evident than in the profound presence she had on the defensive end of the floor Wednesday.
With IU clamping down on TCU’s 6-foot-3 center Jordan Moore in the post, Cahill continuously found herself switching all over the court, guarding seemingly every player the Horned Frogs threw out there at some point.
If she wasn’t switching around the perimeter, contesting TCU’s guards' outside shots, she was helping down low, battling the post players inside.
“We were switching two through four, so it didn’t really matter who we got matched up on,” Cahill said. “We just wanted to make sure we guarded the person that was in front of us, and overall, I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
If there was one constant in TCU turnovers leading to IU baskets, it was Cahill. Despite it not showing up in the box score, simply getting a hand in passing lanes or diving on the floor and battling for a loose ball was enough for her to make a huge influence in the Hoosiers' scoring 17 points off turnovers along with 13 fast break points to go along with it.
“I thought Amanda was really terrific off the ball and really gave Kym Royster great support,” IU Coach Teri Moren said. “And that meant a lot, because that meant Bendu, Jaelynn and Tyra didn’t have to get too far off their shooters.”
However, despite Buss leading the way with a game-high 22 points, Cahill stepped offensively when her team needed it most as well. In the third quarter, she scored the last five points before the final period, after hitting her second 3-pointer of the quarter and knocking down two clutch free throws with less than a second left.
It was all part of another consistent offensive outing as she scored 14 points on 5-8 shooting.
Much like her significance on defense, Moren said Cahill’s role of facilitating IU’s offense from the high post doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
“She doesn’t leave that high post area very often,” Moren said. “If there’s one person we’re really confident in that position, it’s Amanda.”
Yet just like her loose ball in the second quarter, there were plenty of moments Cahill’s defense proved most instrumental in generating offense for her team.
With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Hoosiers up by ten, Cahill found herself losing balance. She stumbled out of bounds, losing Moore, who she had switched on to with Royster.
Miraculously, she recovered and raced back to Moore, who received an entry pass in the post. Cahill wormed her way in and poked the ball out of Moore’s hands into that of freshman guard Bendu Yeaney.
Yeaney raced down the court and found Royster for an easy transition bucket.
Defense stemming from Cahill’s fight leading to offense, yet again.
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