When the backboard lit up red and the final buzzer sounded, then-No. 17 IU women’s basketball was beside itself. The team had lost back-to-back overtime games and just suffered its worst loss of the season — 76-62 against a tough Maryland defense.
In that Jan. 20 loss to Maryland, IU rode the play of sophomore guard Grace Berger and junior guard Ali Patberg. The duo combined for 36 points, seven steals and seven assists, but their efforts were not enough.
Since that night in College Park, Maryland, the No. 18 Hoosiers have gone 4-0 and look to win their first-ever game against the No. 13 Terrapins at 8 p.m. in Thursday’s rematch.
Maryland’s full-court press forced IU’s guards into corners, leading to bad passes and backcourt violations. IU shot the ball well in the second half, but between turnovers and a high-scoring Maryland offense, it could not overcome its conference rival.Maryland turned these mistakes into 18 points.
The Terrapins had four players with 12 or more points in their eighth consecutive victory over the Hoosiers. Sophomore forward Shakira Austin led all scorers with 22 points, attacking the paint and scoring on the Hoosier forwards.
Breaking through presses and defending the paint will be essential for the Hoosiers.
IU’s defense gave up 30 points in the paint in its 66-54 win over Purdue on Monday. The Hoosiers allowed the Terrapins to score 38 points in the paint during their last meeting.
Maryland’s senior forward Stephanie Jones and Austin had success against sophomore forward Aleksa Gulbe and freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes. The two combined for 34 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks against IU as they took charge of the paint and kept it from climbing back in the game.
A strong front on the perimeter from the Hoosier guards will keep defenders from breaching the paint. Gulbe and Holmes will be able to lock in on their defenders and protect the basket if the Terrapin guards are locked out of the paint.
When IU head coach Teri Moren sent Gulbe and senior forward Brenna Wise to set screens for the guards, IU got the ball across the court and set up its offense. Berger hit open jumpshots, Patberg drove to the basket for open layups and junior guard Jaelynn Penn found open looks.
Penn dribbled through defenders instead of picking up the ball when pressure arrived. She drew fouls, found her teammates for open shots and gave her guards confidence to do the same.
The Hoosiers broke the 1-2-2 zone a little late in their 14-point loss. However, they can prevent the Terrapins from forcing turnovers if the guards have outlets to pass the ball to.
An IU victory would give the program a shot at the top spot in the conference. It would also give IU five consecutive wins against conference opponents for the second time in 10 years.