INDIANAPOLIS — For Maryland’s final three-point attempt of the outing, graduate guard Katie Benzan took a shot from the right corner only to see her try miss the rim entirely. For the first time this season, Maryland failed to make a single 3-point shot. In their 62-51 loss to Indiana in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Terrapins missed all 12 of their attempts from three.
“We’re disappointed in the loss; this is a feeling for us that we’re not used to,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “I think it shows just how tremendous the league has been all season long.”
On Friday afternoon, it didn’t matter that Indiana slipped from fifth to its current 14th in the AP top-25 poll in the past two and a half weeks. A torrid losing stretch saw the Hoosiers end the year with just one win in their final five games, but there’s something about tournament play that calls for forgetting the rearview mirrors.
After defeating Rutgers, the 13-seed, 66-54, in its opening match of the conference tournament, No. 5 seed Indiana (21-7, 11-5) again came to play against No. 4 seeded Maryland (21-8, 13-4 Big Ten), which earned a double-bye into the quarterfinals.
Friday was the third time the Terps and Hoosiers faced off; the two sides split the season series. The Hoosiers won the first meeting in overtime on Jan. 2, but Maryland evened things up at home on Feb. 25 in its last game before the tournament.
“Today, our shots just weren’t falling,” graduate forward Chloe Bibby said. “You have those games, and you have to find another way to win. At the end of the day, it’s survive or go home.”
There was plenty of red in Gainbridge Fieldhouse Friday afternoon; Maryland’s traveling outfit sat behind the team’s bench, but crimson dominated in what the fans made feel like an Indiana home game.
With the shot clock turned off in the dying seconds of the third quarter, Maryland junior guard Ashley Owusu got the green light to score the final points of the frame. But Indiana’s defense, which was suffocating all game long, stole the ball and raced down the court to turn what would have been a one-possession game into a six-point lead. It perhaps was one of the moments that deflated a feisty and resilient Terps team.
The last time these two sides met, graduate guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary and junior forward Mackenzie Holmes both struggled. Cardaño-Hillary had just three points, zero steals and two assists on 1-for-10 shooting from the field. Holmes, who missed time this season through injury, put up 11 points and six rebounds.
But in the third contest, Cardaño-Hillary had nine points, eight rebounds and four steals, while Holmes contributed a team-high 17 points. Grace Berger also gave her side 16 points and 11 boards.
“I can’t say enough about the toughness of Holmes, everything she’s been through injury-wise,” Frese said. “She was the X-factor tonight. The difference was Holmes.”
For Maryland, Owusu had a game-high 21 points. But other than the junior guard and sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese, who logged a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double, no one else scored more than four points.
“I thought our kids defensively showed up in a big kind of way,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “Our goal going into the game was to be as disruptive as we could. We weren’t gonna leave Benzan because of her ability to shoot it so well...I’m just so proud of these guys in executing the game plan.”
Three things to know
1. The Terps experienced its earliest exit from the Big Ten tournament. With the loss, Maryland will now not play until the NCAA Tournament, which begins on March 18. The loss also marks the first time the Terps will not be playing in the Big Ten tournament finals since joining the conference. Indiana snapped Maryland’s streak of making seven straight finals. The Terps have also won the tournament five times out of those seven appearances.
“In 2014, our ACC team lost in the first round and then went to the Final Four,” Frese said. “So it doesn’t make me nervous or anxious for what lies ahead if we respond the way we’re capable of.”
2. Ashley Owusu performed off the bench, but the Terps couldn’t find the lead. Maryland’s bench finished the game with 25 points, 21 of those coming from Owusu. The game marked Owusu’s first scoring performance in double figures since Jan. 27 when the Terps took on Rutgers. In that matchup, Owusu had 17 points. The junior guard’s 21 points mark the first time she’s scored more than 20 points since Dec. 2, when she scored 22 points against Miami. With about six minutes remaining, Owusu hit back-to-back baskets to bring Maryland within five points of Indiana. However, Indiana did not let up, leading to the Terps’ early exit.
Redshirt junior forward Mimi Collins also added four points off the bench.
“I’m not gonna say we were rushing,” Owusu said of her team’s offensive flow. “We just didn’t shoot the ball as well as we can. I don’t think that’s like us. I wouldn’t say we were rushing shots.”
3. Indiana played tough defense and Maryland could not find a way to convert from 3-point range. The Terps shot 0-for-12 from behind the arc, with Bibby taking a team-high three attempts each from deep. Coming into this matchup, the Terps’ season-low 3-pointers in a single game were three, which came against both Miami, Rutgers and Indiana the first time these two teams met. Also of note, Indiana did not allow Benzan, who leads the team with 67 successful 3-pointers this season, a single point for the game's entirety. Benzan’s zero points mark the first time an opponent held her scoreless in her two seasons at Maryland. The last time the Terps missed every 3-point attempt was in 2018 against NC State, per the Big Ten broadcast.
“You have to make open layups,” Bibby said. “You have to make open shots if you want to win. We didn’t do that today, but I was happy with how we picked up our defense in the second half.”