No. 10 Indiana women’s basketball was defeated 67-64 by No. 13 Maryland on Friday in College Park, Maryland. The loss means Indiana will be the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which takes place from March 2-5, and will not have a double-bye to the quarterfinals.
Friday marked the final game of both Maryland and Indiana’s regular seasons. The teams played each other on Jan. 2 in Bloomington, a matchup Indiana won 70-63 in overtime.
Entering Friday’s contest, Maryland led Indiana by half a game for fourth place in the Big Ten standings. Had Indiana won, it would have taken sole possession of the No. 4 seed and received the automatic two-round bye to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Instead, Indiana will be the No. 5 seed and get a one-round bye.
As seen commonly during its now three-game losing streak, Indiana started poorly. The team committed six turnovers — five of which came before the mid-quarter media timeout — and shot 25% from the field in the first quarter, including 0-4 on 3-point attempts. After the first quarter, Indiana trailed Maryland 19-10.
“It’s embarrassing,” graduate student guard Ali Patberg said postgame. “We’re a veteran group. We shouldn't have to fight our way back into games like we’ve been doing. It all comes down to our focus.”
One of the Hoosiers’ early missed 3-pointers was an airball by graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, who struggled to score throughout the game. She committed three turnovers and only scored 3 points on 1-10 shooting. From 3-point range, Cardaño-Hillary shot just 1-6, including a missed potential game-tying three from the corner that would have sent the game to overtime.
Cardaño-Hillary, usually a lockdown defender who opponents struggle to get by, also failed to record a steal in Friday’s game. It was the first game without a steal for Cardaño-Hillary since Indiana’s win over Southern Illinois University on Dec. 23.
"It happens,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “Nikki was not her best tonight, so we had to go to our bench and find another guard who could come in and give us something."
Indiana never regained the lead after the first quarter, but it was able to come back and make the game close. Going into halftime, Maryland led by 5 points and entered the fourth quarter with a 4-point lead, but Indiana was never able to completely close the gap.
With 35 seconds left, Cardaño-Hillary made her only basket of the game, a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the Terrapins’ lead to 1 point. Maryland responded with a floater on its next possession, while Indiana was forced into Cardaño-Hillary’s contested shot to try and tie the game on its last possession.
“Obviously disappointed,” Moren said. “Got off to a slow start offensively, but (we) did manage to get back into the game.”
Senior guard Grace Berger led Indiana in points, rebounds and assists as well as recording a double-double on Friday. She scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out six assists in the loss.
Sophomore forward Angel Reese, who recorded a double-double of her own with 20 points and 16 rebounds, helped the Terrapins secure a top-four seed for the Big Ten Tournament.
Indiana ends the regular season with an overall record of 19-7 and a conference record of 11-5. As the No. 5 seed, the Hoosiers will play their first Big Ten Tournament game in the second round on Thursday in Indianapolis after the winner of the game between the No. 12 seed and No. 13 seed is decided.