Indiana women’s basketball suffered its most crushing loss in some time earlier this afternoon, falling 79-75 to 4-seed Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. The Hoosiers were up 20 at the half but absolutely fumbled down the stretch, succumbing to death by a thousand cuts.
Here’s three things from a confusing game:
Okay, I am going to be straight up with you: Indiana blew a twenty four (24) point lead in this game. It was a historic (the biggest blown lead in Big Ten tournament history) and it happened mainly because Indiana couldn’t break Ohio State’s press.
14 of Indiana’s 18 turnovers came after OSU started pressing consistently in the second half. The absence of Mackenzie Holmes, who hasn’t been at 100% and only played five minutes in the fourth quarter due to foul trouble, certainly didn’t help.
The Hoosiers shot just 8-29 (27%) in the final twenty minutes and seemed frazzled during every possession. Shades of this issue were caught during their 12/8 win at Penn State and 22/29 road loss to Michigan State but I don’t think anyone thought it cut this deep.
When Inbounding from the baseline, Indiana kept forcing the ball into the near corner where the pass receiver would immediately be doubled. They’d try to get it back to the inbounder who didn’t seem to have a clear idea of where to go and then either turn the ball over via a bad pass or be forced to call timeout. Over half of OSU’s 14 steals came on Indiana’s side of the court, many of them leading to easy points.
Need to give some props to Kevin McGuff here too. I loved the adjustment he made midway through the fourth when OSU changed the shape of their press out of a timeout. The Hoosiers didn’t know what hit them and took a five seconds violation in response to the shift.
Beating a very good team three times is quite difficult, but this one stings because of the way it went down. Every other team in the country should be taking notes, the Hoosiers have plenty to work on before the national tournament.
Just like yesterday, Scalia was great today against OSU. The Minnesota transfer finished with 15 points and was 4-8 from deep, shooting like the assassin we all know she can be:
Scalia’s been a little inconsistent at times during her first year in Bloomington but really stepped up today. She made some big defensive plays when things started falling apart and fought hard to keep the game closer than it really should’ve been. #14 recorded her first block as a Hoosier in the fourth quarter and had a pair of great defensive rebounds during the game.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that Scalia, who isn’t much of a slasher, also had a great and-one in the second quarter. She is so fun to watch when she’s on. Seeing the broadcast cut to shots of her parents, who were very pumped up, after each of her makes was really sweet.
It would’ve been awesome to see Indiana win both the Big Ten regular season and tournament but that’s obviously no longer possible. Luckily for Hoosier fans, Indiana’s resume is so solid that they’re probably still a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament:
Indiana was another No. 1 seed with too much collateral to fall off the 1-line with a loss. Great comeback by Ohio State, but Hoosiers are still a No. 1. The Buckeyes move up the 3-line, but remain there for now. A chance to get to a 2 is still there with tomorrow's final.— Charlie Creme (@CharlieCreme) March 4, 2023
Things will be fine. I’d rather a team discover its weaknesses now than in the Sweet Sixteen.
Selection Sunday isn’t until Sunday, 3/18 but we already know that Indiana will be hosting March Madness games during St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The next week or so calls for rest, recovery, and learning how to break the press.