For the first 20 minutes Saturday, it seemed that No. 20 IU women’s basketball might be able to pull off an upset over No. 6 Maryland in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Instead, the Terrapins used a 17-0 third-quarter run to end the Hoosiers’ hopes of a Big Ten title, winning 66-51 Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. This will be Maryland's sixth consecutive championship appearance.
“We’re disappointed,” IU women’s basketball head coach Teri Moren said. “We are. We wanted to advance and play for a championship tomorrow. However, we know this, we still have a lot of basketball ahead of us.”
The first half was a closely contested, and IU found itself trailing by only four at halftime. Despite not shooting well, the Hoosiers managed to stifle Maryland offensively and remain within striking distance.
“I thought we tested them defensively for sure,” Moren said. “The problem we had was we just couldn’t score enough points. I think if we could’ve scored the ball better, particularly in the third quarter and just kind of hung around, it would have been a different kind of outcome for us.”
IU managed to win the turnover battle in the half by forcing eight Maryland turnovers to its six, but in the second half it was Maryland’s turn to inflict pain on defense.
“They stayed in their zone in the second half,” junior guard Ali Patberg said. “In the first quarter, they were pressing us, and we did a really good job handling that. They ended up getting out of it and playing their zone. And I think we just struggled in the third quarter.”
Maryland’s energy and hustle for loose balls helped it to go on a 17-0 run and in the process establish a defense that would hold IU scoreless for all but three minutes in the fourth quarter.
The Terrapins outscored the Hoosiers in transition 15-0 for the entire game and took control of the offensive glass in the third quarter.
This was a departure from IU’s success Friday night against Rutgers, when the team dominated in second-chance points and points off turnovers. It didn’t help that IU shot 33% overall from the floor.
The only things that remained from Friday were the Hoosiers’ defense and toughness. The defense manifested itself in its ability to keep Maryland under 30% from the 3-point line the entire night and force 15 turnovers.
The toughness showed as junior guard Jaelynn Penn languished through 26 minutes on essentially one leg, and Patberg took a few hard hits that left her clearly at less than 100%.
While they persevered, it didn’t matter much as Penn finished with just two points and Patberg scored 16 points, which was 12 fewer than her team-high 28 Friday night.
The Hoosiers now wait until selection Monday to find out when and where they will begin NCAA tournament play. A win could have pushed them into a first round home game scenario, but IU's resume is in the hands of the selection committee now.
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