In their second meeting just in the span of three days, the Indiana women’s basketball team fell again at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes, 88-82. However, the past two games between the No. 10 Hoosiers and No. 21 Hawkeyes were far from alike, as Indiana looked like the Hoosiers we have come to know all season despite the loss Monday.
“I’m just really proud of our group,” head coach Teri Moren said. “As we said to our guys, we've been through a lot. With Mackenzie (Holmes) being hurt, the pandemic set us back a little bit, and we really feel like tonight was the first time we kind of looked like ourselves. [But] I’m disappointed, I want them to be disappointed, but we are not going to be discouraged by any of this.”
A major part of this improved effort Monday from Indiana was the hot start. On Saturday, the Hoosiers seemed a little conservative in their offensive efforts, as their shot selection seemed a little uncharacteristic. But Monday night, the guards such as Grace Berger and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary were much more aggressive in driving to the paint and attacking Hawkeye forward Monica Czinano early on.
The Hoosiers got up by 12 at the half, and had one of their highest scoring team totals of the season in a half with 52. Part of this was due to a big defensive half in forcing the Hawkeyes to turn the ball over and get out in transition to score. Cardaño-Hillary did a good job of containing Iowa leading scorer Caitlin Clark for the most part and stepping in front of passing lanes to find Holmes and Aleksa Gulbe near the basket to give the Hoosiers a big lead heading into the locker room.
But in the second half, it started to look more like Saturday’s game, as the Hawkeyes took over the momentum slowly throughout the half. The Hoosiers began to lose track of Clark on the 3-point line, as she was a huge reason the Hawkeyes were able to get back into the game. With her Stephen Curry-like ability from beyond the arc, she has the ability to take over a game in the matter of minutes, as the Hawkeyes outscored Indiana by seven in the third quarter.
What really hurt the Hoosiers down the stretch in the closing minutes of the game was the strong inside play of Czinano, as she had a career-high 31 points on 13-for-17 shooting on Monday night. With so much attention being on Clark and the other guards on the outside, Czinano got a lot of looks inside from the other guards which had the Hoosiers off guard defensively. However, she wasn't a factor in the beginning of the game, which can be attributed to Holmes continuing to rehab and get back in shape after knee surgery.
“I’m just going to rehab the way I have been rehabbing,” Holmes said. “I’m a month out of surgery, so I haven’t had a lot of time to really focus on [my game]. I think it will just be better to get my endurance up which I know will come with time.”
— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) February 22, 2022
This is the first time Indiana has lost back-to-back games this season, and the Hoosiers now sit at 19-6 on the season entering what will be not an easy final game of the season. Indiana will take on the No. 13 Maryland Terrapins on Friday, whom the Hoosiers defeated earlier in the season. Indiana will have to be ready to face a hungry, high-octane Maryland offense if it wants to avoid three straight losses to end the season and head into Big Ten Tournament play in Indianapolis. Moren said she has nothing but respect for her opponent in the season finale on Friday.
“The entire Maryland team is terrific,” Moren said. “They have run the table here in the Big Ten for a few years. So we know that we have another tall task.”