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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

women's basketball

No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball’s rough-and-tough defense proves dependable in top-10 win

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If head coach Teri Moren has made any point clear during her Indiana women’s basketball coaching tenure, it’s which side of the ball the Hoosiers own as their identity: defense. While most players prefer the offensive side, No. 6 Indiana showed why valuing defense pays dividends.

The Hoosiers faced No. 9 Maryland in a top-10 showdown Thursday night, and it was Indiana’s stalwart defense down the stretch that sealed a 68-61 win. Tied at 50 points apiece in the fourth quarter, the Hoosiers made consecutive stops to pull away.

“I’m really proud of our resilience and toughness,” Moren said after the game. “When they tied it up, we had to make a stand, and I thought we did that defensively.”

Indiana’s defense showed up early, earning four steals in the first quarter. Tied 3-3 two minutes in, junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil ripped the ball from Maryland star senior guard Diamond Miller, then took it coast to coast to capitalize.

While the Hoosiers were racking up steals, the Terrapins couldn’t miss in the first quarter. They shot 8-of-13 to score 20 points, taking a one-point lead into the second period.

Then, Indiana turned the defensive pressure up. It forced three more turnovers and held Maryland scoreless for a five-minute and 20-second stretch, scoring 10 points of its own to take a 10-point lead.

Miller was the primary focus defensively for the Hoosiers, and Indiana’s guards were up for the task. Miller had three points on 25% shooting in the first half with her turnover amount equaling her points. Indiana’s help-defense allowed her no free looks and sent one or two additional defenders every time Miller drove to the basket.

“Diamond (Miller) got a few things easy, but we tried to muck it up as much as we could when she got the ball in the paint with high activity,” Moren said. “I think she had to work for a lot of those points she got.”

Indiana continued where it left off, forcing seven turnovers in the third quarter, five of which were steals. Indiana’s backcourt trio of Berger, Moore-McNeil and junior guard Sydney Parrish wreaked havoc on Maryland’s guards, constantly applying pressure and forcing miscues.

Tight defense on Miller continued as well, forcing her into two more turnovers and four points, all of which came from the free throw line. Through the first three frames, the Hoosiers were forcing Maryland’s supporting cast to beat them. Holding the Terrapins to 36.8% from the field and possessing a 6-point lead with 10 minutes remaining, Moren’s game plan was working.

While Indiana’s best defense came in the first three periods, its most important came in the fourth. It started poorly, as Miller scored Maryland’s first eight points of the quarter and helped the Terps tie the game at 50.

With the pressure on, the Hoosiers stepped up. Indiana forced five consecutive Maryland misses while scoring nine points of its own during a three-minute and 33-second run. The stout effort prevented the Terrapins from bringing their deficit closer than five points to seal a crucial Indiana victory.

“They love the answers to the test, they want to know how to beat the opponent,” Moren said. “They do try really hard, and because of that you’re seeing what’s happening with us. (We’re) one of the top teams in the Big Ten defensively which is our identity, it’s who we are.”

Indiana held Maryland to 36.8% — 7.2% below the Terrapins’ season average. Maryland was also kept at 4.2% below its season 3-point average, 8.7 rebounds below season average and 3.3 turnovers above season average.

Miller erupted for 12 points in the fourth frame to finish with 19, reaching her season quota of 18.7 points per game. However, she did so on an inefficient 5-of-13 shooting, 38.4%, and five turnovers.

Berger and Moore-McNeil snatched four steals each, and Parrish snagged three of her own, totaling 11 of Indiana’s 12 steals. The Hoosiers also finished with 37 rebounds and four blocks.

The Hoosiers’ defense next test will come from Wisconsin Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and will be available to watch on BTN+.

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