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Berger a bright spot, but slow start dooms Hoosiers against No. 12 Maryland

A 10-0 start from the Terrapins would end up costing Indiana the game, as the Hoosiers fell in a close one 84-80. Despite the stagnant start, Indiana made a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback to cut the deficit to four points thanks to getting hot from the field and staying composed on defense.

A bright spot on offense was junior Grace Berger, who put up 26 points while dishing out seven assists and grabbing three rebounds. Sophomore Mackenzie Holmes continues to be a huge presence inside for the Hoosiers, as she tallied up a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds while shooting at a 50% clip. 

No. 12 Maryland (7-1, 2-0 Big Ten) started out with two big 3-pointers, pushing out to an early 6-0 run. IU (5-3, 3-1) proceeded to miss a couple of shots which turned into points for the Terps. Berger harped on how giving up points to a team like Maryland hurt IU’s chances of winning. 

“We know we’re a great team capable of beating anyone,“ Berger said. “But it’s hard when you get yourself down 10-0, you can’t do that against a really good team like Maryland.  If we don’t let them go on the 10-0 and 5-0 runs, the result might be different and we’ve got to get that figured out. But when we just play our game we’ll be perfectly fine.“

Berger showed up when the team needed her the most, with a big second quarter and serving as the main catalyst of offense for the majority of the quarter. However, Maryland stayed hot from behind the arc, with its star Ashley Owusu hitting some big shots towards the end of the quarter to halt Indiana’s momentum. 

For a Maryland team with four players averaging double-digit points and the team as a whole averaging over 90 points per game, IU held its ground against the high-octane Terrapin offense. The Hoosiers held the Terps to their lowest point total of the season by seven points, along with holding them below their average of 10 3-pointers as Maryland had eight on the night. Despite holding Maryland to under its averages, head coach Teri Moren believes there is more that needs to be done defensively.

“Our goal was only to give up four 3s tonight to a team that averages 10,” Moren said. “So that was not the start that we had hoped for. I was hoping after the second 3 that we could come down and score, but you’ve got to give your kids confidence that it’s a long game.”

Grace Berger during last year’s matchup with Maryland in Bloomington. (Ross Abdellah/HN)

Whenever IU went on a run, it seemed like a Terrapin 3 would hurt the Hoosiers’ momentum. Indiana was also able to get the ball inside to Holmes more and finish at the rim, which is something the team couldn’t really do early on in the game.

Being down 14 to the No. 12 team in the country with one quarter to play is a daunting task, but the Hoosiers stood their ground and made a fourth-quarter comeback. Outscoring the Terps by 10 in the final quarter, the Berger-Holmes connection proved to be a good one, providing a variety of ways Indiana could score. 

The Hoosiers were there until the very end, but missed a couple shots that could have made it a one-possession game. Maryland was able to hit its free-throws late in the game, and took the game 84-80. 

IU now shifts its attention to another road game against 3-4 Penn State. Despite their record, the Nittany Lions’ losses are all to good teams, so the Hoosiers will have to bring their A-game in order to get another conference win. Although the thoughts of revenge are still fresh in IU’s heads, the team remains focused on the task ahead in Penn State. 

“Right now our sights are only on Penn State,“ Moren said. “We’ve got to continue to get better on both sides of the ball and we’ll worry about [Maryland] when we get to postseason play and the Big Ten Tournament. I don’t know if I speak for my staff and I think I can speak for our players, I think that if we have an opportunity to play in the tournament I think it will be one that our players look forward to. Maryland is a great team.”

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