INDIANAPOLIS — Maryland and Indiana matched up for the third time Saturday, this time in the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.
In their first meeting, Maryland handled Indiana easily, winning 76-62 on Jan. 20. Indiana turned the ball over 15 times in that contest and was out-rebounded 40-28. In the second matchup, Indiana lost inside Assembly Hall 79-69 and turned the ball over 17 times.
The third contest could have been confused for either of the first two. Maryland dominated in every facet and completed a three-game sweep of Indiana with a 66-51 victory. After a competitive first half, Maryland shut Indiana down to the tune of 19 turnovers and being out rebounded 44-31. Let’s hand out some grades.
Ali Patberg: B+
In their first contest, Patberg scored 15 points, and in their second she scored 16. Looking at these stats, Patberg’s 16 tonight were on par — except Saturday, those 16 points were a disappointment. That’s because over Indiana’s past five contests, Patberg has been a one-woman wrecking crew. She’s averaged 25.2 points per game in that span and hasn’t scored fewer than 20 in any of them.
She was unable to will her team to victory Saturday against a strong defensive Maryland squad. Patberg fought through some pain that was consequence of a couple of hard hustle plays in the second half and labored for every one of her 16 points with a 6-for-21 night from the field.
“Their length, their athleticism really puts you on your heels at times.” head coach Teri Moren said. “Some of the shots that Ali took were good ones and just didn’t drop tonight. But the fact that she took 21 shots for us I think is still a good thing.”
Grace Berger: B-
Berger exploded for 21 points in Indiana’s first loss to Maryland. On Saturday, she was able to capture only 10, but contributed in other areas. She added a tied for team-high six rebounds and a team high seven assists. She also led the team in turnovers with four and was only able to go 3-for-12 from the field.
Jaelynn Penn: C-
Penn was questionable entering this game with an ankle sprain that she picked up on Friday against Rutgers, and when Maryland began to pull away in the second half, her minutes reflected that. She played only 26 minutes, with just eight of those coming in the second half.
When she was on the floor, it looked like her ankle was bothering her. She was just 1-for-5 from the field and threw up two air balls from deep in the first half.
“We knew at best she was probably going to be 65, 70 percent,” Moren said. “We were really cautious.”
Brenna Wise: B+
The first time Maryland and Indiana matched up; Wise was held scoreless. On Saturday, she finished with seven and added a tied for team-high six rebounds. Her strongest contributions, however, came from the morale she provided for the team.
In classic Brenna Wise fashion, she played hard defense down low and hustled for every 50/50 ball. Her lone 3-point shot came in the fourth quarter, and brought Indiana back to within 11, the closest they had been since halftime.
Mackenzie Holmes: C+
Holmes fought hard with Maryland forwards Shakira Austin and Stephanie Jones, two of the best in the Big Ten, to the tune of 10 points and five rebounds. However, to say that Holmes got the best of them is going too far. The freshman was forced into four personal fouls and had to play smart on defense down the stretch.
Aleksa Gulbe: C-
Gulbe committed two fouls and turned the ball over twice before halftime. The good news is she only committed one more foul and didn’t turn the ball over again. The bad: Gulbe also only scored six points and was only able to bring down three boards.
Between Holmes, Gulbe, and Maryland’s two starting forwards, the Indiana duo was out-rebounded 18 to eight.
As these grades show, none of the Hoosiers actually played badly, but they were rather simply outplayed by a superior opponent in every phase of the game. This comes as no surprise after the first two meetings of these teams, but Maryland is projected to be a one-seed in the NCAA tournament for a reason.
The good news for Indiana: this loss isn’t the end of the world, and it isn’t even the end of the season. Last year, the Hoosiers were unsure of their fate in the month of March at the end of the Big Ten tournament. This year, there is no doubt that the Hoosiers will play more basketball, and it will be on the biggest stage.
The question now becomes if Indiana has put together a resumé worthy of a top four national seed that would earn home court advantage in the first two rounds of the tournament. As it stands, they are on the outside of the top 16 teams in the country looking in. They will find out who their next opponent is, and where they will play them, on Monday, March 16th during the women’s NCAA tournament selection show that will be aired at 7 p.m. on ESPN.