Special by Brandon Alter
In a battle of two top-20 scoring offenses in women’s college basketball — with each team averaging around 80 points a game – the Hoosiers’ defense made the difference.
No.6 Indiana forced No. 9 Maryland into tough shots all game long and kept the visitors off the scoresheet for extended periods of time at key moments to win 68-61 Thursday night.
“Not one of our better games,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “I’m encouraged to be able to see how close we were able to keep it given that it was really an off night by a lot of players.”
Maryland’s Shyanne Sellers and Abby Meyers had off nights as both finished scoring under 10 points despite averaging closer to 15 a game each. The pair combined to shoot 7 of 22 from the field. Diamond Miller led the Terps with 19 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, while Brinae Alexander picked up some of the slack, scoring 15 points, two off her season-high.
The Terrapins (13-4, 4-2 Big Ten) shot just 25 of 57 (37%) from the field despite a lights-out shooting (8 of 13, 61.5%) first quarter. Maryland finished the game having committed 16 turnovers and just 11 assists, leading to a negative assist-to-turnover ratio, a stat Frese feels is essential to success.
The second quarter proved to be the difference maker. The Terrapins went more than five minutes without a point as Indiana turned a 20-19 deficit after the first into a 35-27 halftime lead. Maryland shot just 3 for 11, while the Hoosiers shot 7 of 11 in the quarter while knocking down a pair of 3s.
“Second quarter really hurt us,” Frese said. “The run they were able to make. In conference play, a quarter like that is typically going to get you beat.”
Alexander added that the team “shot ourselves in the foot” when asked what Indiana did defensively that was so effective.
Despite the shooting woes, Maryland started to slowly chip away at the lead in the third quarter.
The Terrapins grabbed their first eight offensive rebounds of the night and, after being outscored 20-6 in the paint in the first half, kept pace with the Hoosiers matching their 12. As a result, Maryland cut a 10-point Indiana lead just past the halfway mark of the quarter to just six by the end of the period.
“We wanted to fight until the end,” Alexander said.
Despite the turnovers and poor shooting, Maryland was never out of the game. After being held to seven points through the first three quarters, Miller scored eight straight to bring Maryland leveled at 50 with just over six minutes remaining.
“The first three quarters were rough, to say the least,” Miller said. “I was just doing anything to help my team out. Obviously, I started too late. I need to show up for these types of games.”
After Miller’s run, the Terrapins again struggled to hit a shot missing four straight over more than three minutes. Meanwhile, Indiana capitalized to go on a 9-0 run that sealed the victory.
“Proud of our fight. It was a top-10 matchup. As poorly as we played, we still gave ourselves a chance when we tied it,” Frese said. “They just made a few more extra plays and possessions. I thought their experience won out.”
The Terrapins return home to face Rutgers on Sunday at 1 p.m. before two road games next week against Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Photo by Michael R. Smith/The Sports Pulse.