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Script flipped on once-dominant Hoosiers in third straight loss

Watching Maryland take down the No. 17 Indiana Hoosiers by 14 points on Monday night looked a lot like Indiana’s early-season domination. Like Indiana’s first four Big Ten wins, Maryland made a concerted effort to grab the ball out of the net and run in transition, which resulted in the Terrapins cruising to a 76-62 win over Indiana.

Taking care of the ball through unselfish play is what made the Hoosiers so good at the start of the year, and it is exactly how Maryland defeated them Monday. This loss drops Indiana to 4-3 in conference play and 14-5 overall, putting its Big Ten regular season champion title hopes in serious question.  

Grace Berger is ready to shoot against Northwestern. Indiana has now lost three straight games. (Evan Rabinowitz/HN)

The Terrapins finished with four players scoring 12 points or more, lead by Shakira Austin with 22 points. The 6-foot-5 sophomore forward had her way in the post Monday, getting to the free-throw line at will and shooting 10-for-13 from the charity stripe. Hoosier forwards Aleksa Gulbe and Mackenzie Holmes didn’t have an answer for Austin, causing Holmes to foul out and Gulbe to commit four fouls. 

But because Maryland has two players who shoot above 40 percent from three, it was a pick-your-poison scenario for Indiana. Taylor Mikesell finished 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and Austin controlled the low post.

“Going into it we were not going to leave [Mikesell],” IU head coach Teri Moren said. “We weren’t going to drop, we weren’t going to dig, we weren’t going to rake, we weren’t going to help our post players on the inside just because of the threats that they are on the outside.”

When Maryland wasn’t feeding Austin inside, running in transition and sharing the ball was the name of the game, resulting in 22 fast-break points and 19 assists. Transition was once one of Indiana’s biggest strengths, but an 8-15 assist-to-turnover ratio limited its ability to control the pace of play. 

Maryland also implements a 1-2-2 press that Moren thought Indiana attacked well in the first quarter, but helped the Terrapins control the tempo for the rest of the game.

“They are really attacking the ball,” Moren said. “They are long, they are athletic. In the past I always thought they were trying to slow roll you and run some time off the clock, but they are really super aggressive in it so you have to be careful because of their length. “

The Terrapins capitalized off turnovers and dominated the glass, as well. Eighteen points off turnovers and a 40-28 rebounding advantage allowed for Maryland to play its style of basketball and protect home court, only allowing Indiana to lead for 24 seconds of this game. With this loss, the Hoosiers fall to a three-way tie for third place in the conference.

After a promising start to the season, reaching heights this program has never seen before, the Hoosiers have hit a rough patch that has Moren questioning certain aspects of her team.

“The press isn’t what is frustrating to me tonight,” Moren said. “I thought our half court offense in the first half just took bad shots and the second half seemed unorganized.”

In a road game the Hoosiers desperately needed after blowing second half leads that resulted in  two overtime losses, they needed their depth to shine. That certainly wasn’t the case on Monday, as Indiana only received significant contributions from five of its players.

Senior Brenna Wise failed to make much of an impact, shooting 0-for-2 from the field with one rebound in 15 minutes to play. Moren tried to reach deeper into her bench, but nothing was working for Bendu Yeaney and Jorie Allen either, scoring just two points each.

Struggling to find success from beyond the arc has been a continued issue for this team and that was no different tonight, shooting just 1-for-8 from three. Twenty-two turnovers were a major issue in its loss to Northwestern last Thursday and was only slightly better

Aleksa Gulbe looks on during an early-season home game. Indiana heads to Penn State on Thursday. (Ross Abdellah/HN)

Monday with 15 turnovers.

“We turned it over, which led to run out layups,” Moren said. “If you are not careful and good at executing against [the press], they can pile up points. They can create havoc for you for sure.”

If Indiana wants to get back in the hunt for a Big Ten championship, it needs to revert back to the fast-paced, unselfish style of basketball that was leading the team to wins earlier in the season. This means a focused approach on controlling the tempo of the game, which starts with point guard Ali Patberg. 

Against Maryland, Patberg scored 15 points with six assists and four steals and only turned the ball over twice, compared to five versus Northwestern. But getting back to how the team was playing at the beginning of the year doesn’t fall on Patberg’s shoulders alone. 

When Indiana was running teams out of the gym, it was because the team was focused on running in transition and sharing the ball. With only two players in double-digit scoring versus Maryland, Indiana’s offense felt motionless and looked completely different than just three games ago. 

“It’s not like we have to be grittier, we have always been that,” Moren said. “We have to get back to the things we were doing well and we have got to get our confidence back.”

Moving forward, life in the Big Ten gets a little bit easier for the Hoosiers. Matchups at Penn State and Purdue, along with home games versus Minnesota and Wisconsin mean Indiana will face a team in the bottom five of the Big Ten rankings in each of its next four games. 

This slight drop in competition for Indiana is an opportunity to get back to how it was playing at the start of Big Ten play, but not without contributions from the whole team. While Indiana has struggled in its last three games, Moren does not question this team’s ability.

“Here’s what I do know,” Moren said. “I love this team, we are the same team that beat South Carolina, we are the same team that beat Miami, we are the same team that has had some really terrific wins.”

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