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Three Things: Indiana Women’s Basketball falls to Maryland 67-64

Too much Turtle Power

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 25 Women’s - Indiana at Maryland
Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes defend vs. Maryland
Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Maryland Terrapins got the best of the Indiana Hoosiers in what was quite the finale to the 2021-22 regular season on Friday night in College Park. IU completes the season with a 19-7 overall record, including going 11-5 in Big Ten play. They’ll be the 5-seed in the B1G Tournament next week, here’s three things:

Bigs

Maryland beat Indiana largely because they had the best player on the floor. Terrapin Forward Angel Reese is insane, the former Big Ten All-Freshman team member led the game with 20 points and also pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds. Maryland’s offensive strategy is pretty simple: kick it to Reese in the post and let her go to work. Indiana played good defense, holding her to 9-21 shooting from the field, but Reese’s rebounding and control of the pace of play won UMD this game.

IU was led statistically by Grace Berger. The Senior Guard finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists; all at or above her season averages. As per usual, Berger tossed a gem on Friday, but the rest of IU’s offensive output was fairly tame. They shot 25-61 (41%) from the field which is a ways below their season average of 45%. They also got to the line just 11 times, only converting on 7 free throws (64%). A single free throw attempt in the second half ain’t gonna get it done against the Marylands of the world.

Three point shooting, however, kept IU in the game. The team was 7-18 (39%) from beyond the arc, and Ali Patberg and Chloe Moore-McNeil combined for 5 triples. Nicole Cardaño-Hillary also hit a huge three with just 35 seconds remaining in the game. NCH had a bit of an off-night. The last minute basket that pulled the Hoosiers within 1 (65-64) was her first of the game, but as always, the Spaniard was who IU looked to with the game on the line. Some things never change, NCH clutch.

Slow Start

As per usual during the later stages of the regular season, IU was done in because they fell behind early on Friday. Indiana trailed 19-10 after the first quarter, and remained behind by 5 points at halftime. They won each of the last two quarters, but single point victories in each were not enough to make up the ground they’d lost off the jump. IU has been in the lead after 10 minutes just once over their past five games; they’ve also won just once over their last five games. That’s a direct relationship and a vote of confidence to the importance of being ready to play right off the bus. I don’t know if it’s the pregame meal, warmup routine, or locker room music, but something needs to change. The Big Ten Tournament is going to be a freaking bloodbath, and IU won’t be able to afford any self-inflicted wounds.

This loss was frustrating, but needs to be taken with a grain of salt. IU definitely could’ve played a more polished game, but this one ultimately came down to the fact that these are two good teams and you can’t win ‘em all. If you asked IU fans how they’d feel about splitting with Maryland prior to the season, I think everybody would be just fine with it. Maryland has won the B1G nearly every year since they joined it, and the fact that Teri Moren’s team is now consistently giving them close games is a victory in and of itself. A Terrapin-Hoosier rubber match looms, as IU will earn a Quarterfinal matchup against Maryland with a victory in their first conference tournament game this Thursday. Grab some popcorn, it’ll be a show.

Where do we go from here?

The 2021-2022 regular season is over! They’ll play for keeps from here on out. First up is the Big Ten Tournament, which’ll be played in Indy next week from Wednesday to Sunday. Indiana finished the season as the 5th overall seed in the conference. Only the top 4 seeds get double-byes, so IU will be playing their first game on Thursday. They’ll face the winner of Wednesday’s Penn State (12)-Rutgers (13) matchup, with a tip time slated for around 2pm Eastern.

Following the conclusion of the conference tournament, IU will move on to March Madness. ESPN is currently projecting seven Big Ten teams in the Big Dance, with the Hoosiers sitting as a 4 seed. A deep conference tourney run could probably get the Hoosiers up to a 3, but an early exit will likely knock them down to a 5 or so. Keeping this theoretical 4 seed is the goal, as the top 4 seeds in each region will serve as a host site for the first two rounds of the tournament. IU lost just two games on its’ home court all year, so a couple more tips in Assembly Hall would be big for the Cream and Crimson.

We made it, y’all! Playoff basketball. Go Hoosier.