No. 10 Indiana women’s basketball is not known for taking 3-point shots. It’s also not known for a fast-paced play style, instead preferring to take time going down the court – offensively and defensively – to get the best production it can.
That had to change Friday night. And yet, the Hoosiers couldn’t adapt.
No. 13 Maryland, playing with home court advantage in College Park, Maryland, quickly took over the pace of the game within the first three minutes. Indiana scored the first 2 points of the game, courtesy of junior forward Mackenzie Holmes, but it never led again.
The Terrapins controlled all facets of the game, specifically speeding up their play offensively and defensively to combat the Hoosiers’ traditionally slower-paced movement. The Hoosiers struggled to adjust from the opening tip and were held to just 10 points in the first quarter.
Graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary attempted the first of 33 attempted 3-point shots between both teams throughout the game, but the ball failed to even hit the rim. Cardaño-Hillary scored just 3 points, but her sole make came when Indiana needed it most. With 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter, she nailed a clutch 3-pointer to put Indiana within 1 point of tying the game.
The ball once again found itself in Cardaño-Hillary’s hands with one second left and a chance to send the game to overtime, but her 3-point shot missed the mark to cement Maryland’s 67-64 win.
A key part in Maryland’s ability to maintain its momentum throughout the first half, which set the tone for the game as a whole, was its ability to make 3-pointers like they were free throws.
The Terrapins knocked down three 3-pointers in each of the first two quarters and entered halftime shooting 6-8 from beyond the arc. The Hoosiers shot 3-4 from beyond the arc in the second quarter, which accounted for all their makes of the first half.
Graduate student guard Ali Patberg led Indiana – and all scorers – with three 3-pointers, shooting 3-4 from long range. She scored a total of 11 points, second only to senior guard Grace Berger’s 16 for the Hoosiers.
“We’re a really talented group offensively,” Patberg said. “We have weapons everywhere. We got some good looks and hit some down, but obviously we didn’t hit enough.”
Though Indiana found ways to keep up with Maryland, the team didn’t look completely comfortable as the game progressed and still failed to find any real momentum.
“It just seemed like we could get close, but we couldn’t get over the hump,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “We just couldn’t make enough plays and keep them at bay defensively.”
While the two teams finished with relatively even shooting numbers, each with seven made 3-pointers and in the low 40s for shooting percentage, Indiana’s late-game offense wasn’t dynamic enough to pull out a win in the regular season finale.
“We know how talented they are offensively, and how they can shoot the ball,” Patberg said about Maryland’s offense. “We gave them open looks. And they’re talented enough to hit open looks, and they did.”
Patberg said the Hoosiers came into the game well-prepared by their coaches and aware of the Terrapins’ tendencies. But the Hoosiers’ inability to play to those tendencies held them back, while simultaneously allowing three Terrapin players to put up two 3-pointers each.
“That’s the frustrating part,” Patberg said. “We know their shooters, and we let them shoot.”
Indiana was also forced into 14 turnovers, with six coming in the first quarter alone as Indiana tried to adjust to Maryland’s pace. Indiana forced eight Maryland turnovers in the fourth quarter, but the team’s offense wasn’t able to back up its defensive effort, failing to score again after Cardaño-Hillary made her 3-pointer.
“Turnovers, missed shots – two big missed shots – really didn’t help us defensively,” Moren said. “We were not as locked in as we needed to be, so we’ve got to figure that out.”
Indiana will enter the Big Ten Tournament, running from March 2-5, as the No. 5 seed, set to play the winner of the game between the No. 12 and No. 13 seeds on Thursday.