Before a roaring crowd at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall Thursday, No. 6 women’s basketball from Indiana won its second top 10 duel of the season by beating No. 9 Maryland 68-61.
The game was a back-and-forth from the start. After Maryland scored the first basket, play was stopped a minute later while the umpires fixed a problem with the clocks. Coming out of the break was graduate guard Grace Berger – who was playing her first game at Bloomington since returning from injury – and found junior guard Sydney Parrish for an open 3-pointer to put Indiana on the scoreboard and the cream and Bringing crimson-clad fans into the game gets up early.
However, Maryland responded to the next possession and set the tone for the early game.
Neither team built a lead of more than a single possession until Parrish hit another 3-pointer almost eight minutes into the game to give Indiana a five-point lead. Maryland quickly responded with a three of their own the next time they had possession, to cut the lead to two points straight away.
The pattern of one team making a play to seemingly get momentum only for the other team to immediately respond with a big play of their own continued into the first quarter and a half. In this period alone there were six draws and seven lead changes.
In the second quarter, however, the Hoosiers opened up a 9-0 run, again sparked by a Parrish triple. When the buzzer rang at halftime, the Hoosiers had a 35-27 lead and the Terrapins held to just seven points in the second quarter.
Coming out of the half, Indiana continued to play the blocking defense as it tried to put more distance between itself and Maryland. However, it was constantly hampered by early turnovers, totaling eight in the quarter and 19 in the game — the second-highest total of the season, just two fewer than the Michigan State loss.
While the Hoosiers were far from playing a perfect game or quarter, they continued to find opportunities to score, such as when a misplaced pass bounced off the board and slammed perfectly into the lap of elder forward Mackenzie Holmes, who converted the easy layup.
“I think that was just a fun bit,” said Holmes. “Honestly, there was a little bit of perspective in that moment – like it was just a game and to have fun. But I think it just speaks to the character of our team. We just like to play ball and we like to win, so yeah that was a fun little moment.
While their tight defense put them six points clear going into the final frame, the Hoosiers began to slip early in the fourth. After holding Terps’ top scorer, senior guard Diamond Miller, to just seven total points in three quarters, the Hoosiers allowed her to have eight points early in the period, ending the game at 50 points apiece with six minutes left .
For possession in front of Miller’s game-changing layup, Berger was called for an offensive foul, leading to head coach Teri Moren and the crowd expressing displeasure with the referees. Despite catching her fourth foul with more than half a quarter to play, Moren said there was no discussion about knocking out Berger but kept her star in and trusted she wasn’t fouling.
“You’ve got to have your veteran, your leader, your coach out there on the ground,” Moren said of the post-game decision. “She’s smart enough to understand how to play with four fouls and she has staff over there who trust her beyond measure in terms of her decisions and know she wouldn’t let that game be knocked out.”
The decision paid off, and the Hoosiers responded again. With another 9-0 run over three and a half minutes thanks to baskets from four different players, each of whom got the crowd on their feet, Indiana regained control of the game and didn’t want to relinquish it.
Though Miller and her teammates struggled, Indiana was able to overcome its turnover woes and thwart Maryland with a few key end stops and a couple of free throws. The nearly 6,000 fans in attendance gave their team a round of applause as the final buzzer sounded and the scoreboard read 68-61. With the win, the Hoosiers secured another top-10 win that could prove the difference in determining seeding for March’s NCAA tournament.
After the game, Holmes – who recorded her fourth straight double-double in the win – said one of her opponents even noticed the fans’ influence and knowledge of the game during the game.
“She says, ‘You actually know what’s going on.’ And I say, ‘Yes, I know.’ Because they keep us energized throughout the game, and that’s just because they know when we need to stop, they know when we need a goal,” said Holmes. “It’s difficult to play here, but it’s really fun to be the home team.”
Indiana improves to 15-1 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play with the win. The team will remain in Bloomington for their next game, a matchup against Wisconsin on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Assembly Hall.