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Indiana Sends Seniors Out With First WNIT Championship

Indiana Women’s basketball team celebrates with the WNIT championship trophy. The Hoosiers beat Virginia Tech 65-57 to claim its first WNIT championship. (Mark Timko/HN)

Behind a record setting crowd of over 13,000 people, Indiana women’s basketball claimed its first WNIT championship over Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon 65-57.

It wasn’t the best offensive display from the Hoosiers, but their two seniors Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill were able to get the job done when they needed to.

The IU women’s basketball team salutes the crowd following the WNIT championship. The Hoosiers beat Virginia Tech 65-57 (Mark Timko/HN)

Buss led Indiana with 16 points and Cahill chipped in 12 as the Hoosier women cut down the nets in a postseason tournament for the just the second time ever and the two seniors finished their careers with a win.

“Definitely was a bitter sweet ending to our great career here and to go out the way that we did with a win,” Buss said. “Not a lot of people can say they’ve done that, end their college career with a win and we were able to do that.”

Buss didn’t have her best shooting night, just six-of-21 from the field, and Cahill saw limited chances, taking just seven shot attempts, but Indiana got it done on defense.

Virginia Tech shot just 35-percent in the game, 5-of-23 from beyond the arc and turned the ball over 17 times compared to Indiana’s seven. IU was able to take advantage of those miscues and outscore the Hokies 20-8 off turnovers.

Indiana had a nine-point lead at the half, but quickly watched it diminish after the Hokies outscored the Hoosiers 17-7 in the third quarter to go up one-point with 10 minutes remaining.

The Hoosiers who were 0-for-13 from beyond the arc got a big corner 3-pointer from freshman Bendu Yeaney to spark the crowd and change the momentum in the fourth.

“The three by Bendu that was big because then that translated into another three by Cahill and it gave us a little bit of breathing room,” Moren said. “Once we started putting the ball on the deck and going off of ball screens, and attacking, and drawing, and kicking, and sharing, I thought we regained the momentum.”

This WNIT championship was a fitting way for the IU women’s basketball team to end the season. They had a record of 8-12 on the year through the first 20 games, but turned the corner winning eight in a row in the final nine regular season games and 15 of 17 to end the season.

Although the Hoosiers were hot at the end of the season, they were left out of the conversation for the NCAA tournament. That didn’t sit well with coach Moren and the rest of the team, as they wanted to prove the committee wrong by winning the WNIT.

“We all felt like we should have been in the tournament,” Moren said. “To be left out of the conversation, gave us motivation. If we were going to be in the NIT, we were going to play this thing to win it and that’s exactly what we did.”

Buss and Cahill changed this IU program in their four years in Bloomington. In their first season the team struggled with Moren at the helm for the first year going 15-16. In year two, they made the NCAA tournament and after a trip to the WNIT quarterfinals in year three, they won the WNIT as seniors.

The senior duo left its mark in Bloomington and now every time they come back to Assembly Hall, they’ll see their “2018 WNIT Champions” banner hanging in the rafters.

“We wanted to come here and we wanted to make an impact on this program and you can tell that we kind of have and where it’s gone to from where it started,” Buss said. “Our goal, Amanda and I talked about it from the beginning, was to have at least have some people in the upper deck and there was today. Hoosier nation really is amazing they love their basketball and the state of Indiana … so I’m really happy and I’m definitely going to miss it.”

Zain Pyarali

I am a junior from Edwardsville, Illinois majoring in Sports Media. I formerly worked for the Indiana Daily Student for two years serving as the Sports Editor and beat reporters for Men’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer, Baseball and Field Hockey during my time with the student newspaper. Currently I am the Men’s Basketball beat reporter for IU Student Television while I also broadcast games for BTN Student U. Email me: zpyarali@thehoosiernetwork.com and follow me on Twitter: @ZainPyarali

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