No. 14 Indiana women’s basketball defeated No. 11 Maryland 62-51 Friday in Indianapolis to advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. After entering the 2021-22 season without a single win against Maryland in program history, Indiana split the regular-season series 1-1 and won Friday against the defending conference champions.
Maryland came into Friday’s game shooting 36.5% from 3-point range this season, good for the third-best percentage in the Big Ten and 15th-best in the nation. In Maryland’s 67-64 win over Indiana on Feb. 25, the Terrapins shot 7-15 from deep.
However, on Friday against Indiana, Maryland failed to make a single shot from beyond the arc and finished the day 0-12 from 3-point range.
“We were really making the effort and recognizing that we always talk to our kids about not getting sucked in and understanding that we got to protect the arc,” head coach Teri Moren said. “Especially against a team like Maryland.”’
The third matchup of this season’s series started off as a physical contest, similar to the teams’ first two meetings. In the first four-and-a-half minutes of the game, five total fouls were called, and both Indiana and Maryland focused on working the ball inside to their post players.
The physicality didn’t fade as the game progressed. Both teams went back-and-forth, trading baskets with neither able to create separation and pull away on the scoreboard.
Indiana led by 5 points after the first quarter and took a 34-25 lead going into halftime, but Maryland responded out of the break and cut the deficit to 2 points with only a couple of minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“It seemed like (in) the third quarter we sputtered a little bit, but we didn't relinquish the lead,” Moren said. “We just made enough plays and found a way to win.”
After Maryland closed the margin before the fourth quarter, Indiana quickly focused on increasing its lead in the final 10 minutes to avoid a potential late-game comeback by Maryland.
Indiana’s ability to control loose balls and make the most of its extra possessions helped the team set the tone early and then close it out late.
“To get the 50/50 balls, control what you can control and be the team that really threw the first punch, I think that's really what carried us today,” senior guard Grace Berger said.
Maryland head coach Brenda Freese also said her team’s inability to control loose balls was a deciding factor in the game. Freese said she was surprised by the disparity in intensity because Indiana played the day before, unlike Maryland, who got a two-round bye as the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
“That was highly disappointing because that's usually us, especially when you're talking about day-two legs for Indiana,” Freese said. “I just can't say enough about it. They were hungrier, they were more aggressive and they did it for 40 minutes.”
Graduate student guard Nicole Cardano-Hillary was the driving force behind Indiana’s ability to both generate and gather loose balls throughout Friday’s win. She finished with four steals in addition to 9 points and eight rebounds for the Hoosiers.
Junior forward Mackenzie Holmes, who has struggled since returning on Feb. 17 from a knee injury, played her best game since coming back, scoring a team-high 17 points on 7-10 shooting. She also helped slow down Maryland’s talented interior offense. Berger was the only other Indiana player in double figures, as she recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
With the win, No. 5 seed Indiana advances to the conference tournament semifinals and will face No. 1-seed Ohio State on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Indiana came out victorious in its only meeting with Ohio State this season, winning 86-66 on Dec. 12 in Columbus, Ohio.