With the Hoosiers leading by one and under a minute left, Indiana senior guard Josh Newkirk was heading to the free throw line for two shots.
Newkirk missed the first shot. Then he missed the second.
In a game the Hoosiers had to have, would the free throw shooting rear its ugly head again? Well, if it weren’t for junior forward Juwan Morgan, that charity stripe could have been the story.
Instead it was Morgan who positioned himself for an offensive rebound and put it in for two points helping the Hoosiers to a 71-68 win over the Maryland Terrapins.
“I thought it was about to roll in and I jumped before it came out,” Morgan said. “And then by the time I came back down it was coming off. I knew I had enough time to get it off the ground before — I think it was No. 10 who was blocking me out, and I just reached over him and got it and it was wide open.”
It must be the year of the offensive rebound off a missed free throw for the Hoosiers. Almost exactly like the Notre Dame win in mid-December, IU capitalized on an offensive rebound from missed free throw. It’s not a play you see every time you watch a college basketball game.
Yet, the Hoosiers have found a way to do it twice.
Indiana has also found a way to win the close games. With Monday’s win the Hoosiers moved to 4-0 in games decided by five points or less. When asked about it after the game, Indiana coach Archie Miller said it’s about getting stops that help them win the close games.
“If you can get stops and you can find a way to hang in tough games and get stops and your team is believing that you can win a game without scoring points, that’s step one,” Miller said. “Being a tough-minded group, being a team that wants to battle all the way through, I think that’s been good.”
In each of the close wins this season, the Hoosiers faced some type of adversity and had to either hang on, or make a come back. Monday, it was a bit of both.
The Hoosiers led for a majority of the night. But late in the second half, Maryland ripped off a 9-0 run.
“It was a tough stretch for us,” Miller said.
The next few minutes would show a lot about what these Hoosiers were made of. From there, Indiana responded with a 7-0 run of its own to reclaim the lead. The crowd was into it and the Hoosiers fed off it.
“Give our guys credit, they bounced right back,” Miller said. “There were some loose ball plays out there we got on the floor for, which was great to see. Then they got the building going which worked in our favor.”
When it came down to it, Indiana made the hustle plays they needed to make to get the win. They had eight blocks, 10 steals and held Maryland to 31 percent shooting in the second half.
The defense hunkered down, got stops and helped the Hoosiers pull out another close encounter.
“It was really just hunkering down on the defensive end,” Morgan said. “As we got further into the game we just kept getting those big stops.”