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No. 5 seed Indiana robs No. 4 seed Maryland of Big Ten Championship aspirations

INDIANAPOLIS – While Indiana awaits its fate in the NCAA tournament, its spot in the Big Ten is set in stone for now. 

Not only did Indiana’s presence ignite the fire from beneath Gainbridge Fieldhouse’s hardwood, but history was made Friday. A tenacious, statement 62-51 win over No. 4 seed Maryland will be a Hoosier win fans will be reading about for years to come. 

For the first time in the history of Indiana women’s basketball, the Hoosiers have upset the Terps twice in one season. This is also the first time Maryland has not been the winner or runner-up of the championship since they joined the league in 2014. 

For years, Maryland and Indiana have had one of the most robust rivalries in all of the Big Ten, and the Hoosiers were not going to let the Terps get away with two wins in one week after Maryland defeated IU on Feb. 25.

“Maryland has always been the bar,” head coach Teri Moren said. “And if they tell you they're not, then I think they're lying.” 

The reason why Maryland’s engine rarely ever runs out from start to finish begins with its ability to seize control of the game’s momentum from the get go, and that just did not happen Friday. The Terps went 0-12 on 3-point shooting, shot 31 percent from the field, and missed many second, even third, rebounds. There were many 50-50 balls in this matchup with the Hoosiers getting most of them, which was very upsetting to Maryland head coach Brenda Frese.

“That's usually us and especially when you're talking about day-two legs for Indiana,” Frese said. “I mean, they were hungrier. They were more aggressive. And they did it for 40 minutes.” 

Maryland forward Angel Reese was the Terp to look out for in this matchup, considering she made 20 points and tallied 16 rebounds in their last meeting. On Friday, Reese went 5-for-11 from the field and ultimately fouled out of the game in the fourth. Moren knew that Indiana was going to have to be extra special on that side of the ball, and an early foul on Reese in the first quarter destroyed her confidence for the rest of the game, Frese said.

“She (Reese) got caught up in the physicality, the lack of calls that she perceived that needed to be there,” Frese said. “But from her end that doesn't help us. That's an area for her that Indiana did a great job of being physical with her and being aggressive.” 

To say this was a fast-paced game would be an understatement. The Hoosiers punched first and they never looked back. 

Mackenzie Holmes is looking a lot more like her old self with every matchup that comes and goes. She led Indiana with 17 points and was very crafty in the post when her teammates needed her. Holmes is getting her groove back after missing eight games and the frustrations within her and the team are slowly dissipating. 

“There's a lot behind the scenes that was a struggle as well,” Holmes said. “I think it's just the trust that my teammates and my coaches have in me is huge for me.”

There was not much 3-point play Friday from either team, but per usual, Grace Berger was substantially executing Grace Berger things and her classic mid-range jumpers to put her team in a profitable defensive position. She added 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. While she’s proud of the win, that’s not necessarily what she’s focused on.

“At the end of the day, it's just the quarterfinals,” Berger said. “We still have two more games. Our goal is to win the Big Ten Championship and then we'll worry about the NCAA Tournament.” 

Sophomore guard Chloe Moore-McNeil’s basketball IQ is ascending in every game she plays. Her defense is pugnacious and she’s swift on her feet, adding seven points today.  

“We have all the confidence in the world in Chloe, and I think she just needed to have that in herself,” Holmes said. “Just watching her do what she does on the court, her length, her ability to drive in the lane, but also her ability to shoot and defend has just helped us so much.” 

After a Maryland turnover towards the end of the third, Moore-McNeil grabbed the clutch steal and handed it to Berger, who made it all the way down the stretch for a classic Berger buzzer-beater to end the quarter. While the momentum of this game was in the palms of Indiana’s hands from the start, this was a great way to set the tone and keep up the energy going into the fourth. 

The vast showing of Hoosier fans Friday afternoon at Gainbridge may have aided in Indiana leaving with this win. After a missed 3 by Maryland forward/guard Chloe Bibby, a flock of passionate Hoosiers began to chant “airball” and didn’t stop for the remainder of the game. It was all downhill for the Terps from there. 

“The noise might not be as deafening as it is in the Hall,” Moren said. “We still can sense it, we could feel it, we could hear it and there's no doubt that they (the crowd) give us energy.” 

A smiling Moren at the postgame press conference gave off the impression that Saturday will not be the last day of the tournament for them. Indiana will play No. 1 seed Ohio State in the 11th game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday back in Gainbridge.

The Hoosiers’ last meeting with Ohio State was over two months ago on the road where they beat the Buckeyes by 20. While they will not be playing in Bloomington or Columbus, Moren knows this team is capable of getting a win anywhere, anytime .

“And it’s such a great life lesson — when you come up short,” Moren said. “You go through periods where it’s frustrating and it’s tough and it’s disappointing. The ability that these guys have to bounce back and always teach me the lesson of that. I think they teach our coaches that, right?” 



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