No. 19 IU women buried in early hole at No. 12 Maryland

Via Indianapolis Star intern Stefan Krajisnik:

While Indiana was the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, Monday’s 84-80 loss at Maryland served as a reminder of what the next step is for the women’s program: beat the teams that have won it before.

The Hoosiers were 0-10 all-time heading into the matchup in College Park, Md., and it was for obvious reasons. The Terrapins have been the premier program in the Big Ten, and Teri Moren’s squad is trying to reach heights it hasn’t before.

The start to the game made it seem as though No. 19 Indiana (5-3, 3-1) was headed toward its usual blowout, trailing 10-0 less than two minutes into the game and forcing Moren to take a timeout in hopes of cooling off No. 12 Maryland (7-1, 4-0).

The Terrapins entered the game leading the nation in scoring (97.3 points per game), and they came out firing.

Katie Benzan immediately challenged Indiana’s Ali Patberg. Benzan hit a step-back 3 to open the game before hitting another in transition on the following possession.

Meanwhile, the Indiana offense was a late arrival to the evening, scoring nine points in the opening frame and creating another early deficit in the conference rivalry.

“First off, you cannot spot a team like Maryland ten points right out of the shoot like we did tonight,” Moren said postgame. “You are then playing catch up.”

Much of what Indiana was struggling with offensively could be seen through Patberg, who Moren says was often dribbling too much and not being as aggressive as her coach had hoped.

Patberg (nine points, 2-of-7 shooting) had just one field goal attempt in the first half, but this Indiana roster isn’t as dependent on its star as it may have been in years past.

This Indiana team features a trio of All-Big Ten caliber players in guards Grace Berger and Jaelynn Penn, along with forward Mackenzie Holmes.

And it was Berger’s career-high 26-point performance that gave Indiana some hope of completing a comeback, along with 18 points and 11 rebounds from Holmes.

“It wouldn’t have been competitive if Grace Berger hadn’t been on our sideline tonight and out there on the floor with a red jersey on,” Moren said. “It just wouldn’t have been. We’ve seen Grace do that in a lot of different games. I thought tonight she was ultra-aggressive.”

Berger didn’t shy away from attacking. She pushed the tempo when Patberg didn’t. She continued to find good looks to hit her patented mid-range jumper.

Maybe most importantly, she showed the mental strength that Moren hoped would develop after Berger’s freshman season, especially after injuries to Penn and Nicole Cardano-Hillary.

Berger admitted that Maryland’s start had Indiana rattled and made it difficult to find confidence on the road to make the game competitive. But that’s where Berger stepped up and explained postgame where she is with her game mentally.

“I’m a very confident player,” Berger said. “Even when my shots are not falling, I still always think the next one is going in. My team needed scoring tonight, so I just was extra aggressive, and shots were falling for me.”

Behind Berger, Indiana outscored Maryland 71-61 in the final three frames.

The Hoosiers cut the deficit to two about midway through the third quarter after a Berger jumper, and it appeared as though they had started building some momentum.

However, the story of the game would turn out to be just a series of runs where Indiana made the game competitive but couldn’t get crucial stops against the potent Maryland offense.

Various statistics show where Indiana likely should have won this game. The Hoosiers turned the ball over just two times in the final three quarters. They had nine more offensive boards than the Terrapins. But they couldn’t stop the daggers.

Maryland had four players score in double figures, with Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu scoring 20 each.

“We gave them a ton of confidence and energy,” Moren said. “We didn’t have an answer for Owusu. I thought she was really good tonight.”

Moren said her team is quickly shifting its attention to Thursday’s game at Penn State, and Indiana doesn’t need to worry about facing Maryland again in the regular season.

But when asked about it postgame, Moren did say she’d be interested in a rematch with Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament considering what the expectation for both programs is this season.

“If we do have an opportunity to play them in the tournament, I think it’s one that our players will look forward to,” Moren said. “This is a great team. Maryland is a great team. We respect what they’ve done. They’ve won championships — a lot of them. They play high-level basketball, so we’ve gotta learn from this experience tonight.”

14 comments

  1. Any updates on Penn and Hillary?
    IU Ladies have to put the ball in the basket in physical and intense games. This includes close to basket and 3 ball. Almost all ingredients are there if IU ladies could just shoot the ball better in physical games. To me this loss though a big ten loss is not as disappointing as the KY and Tennessee losses. IU Ladies basketball program has plateaued off into a competitive big ten program and I don’t see it getting any better. Rather, just remaining at current plateau level that matches current recruiting success or somewhat unsuccessfully as it seems a big challenge for IU Ladies program. The opposite is true of teams like the Maryland program where ready to go best players just stumble over themselves to fall in coach Frese and Maryland’s lap. Just one example of the top ladies elite basketball programs and players who can shoot the ball….maybe 10 to 15 others on this level. College rankings tried to put the IU Ladies there but as IU Ladies performance has played out…not so fast. If the whole team of IU Ladies could just shoot the ball at a better clip percentage in physical basketball games? Almost everything else is there. What a positive impact it would have on all their overall play vs the negative way it impacts IU Ladies basketball game.

  2. FG M 32-60 IU 35-78
    3 Ball M 8-18 IU 4-17
    RB M 36 IU 38
    FT M 12-15 IU 6-9
    RB M 36 IU 38
    TO M 13 IU 7
    AST M 18 IU 13 (assists correlate to baskets scored)
    If IU Ladies could just put the ball in the basket during physical intense games?

  3. We have never beaten Maryland! This is a hurdle that needs to be overcome for us to be taken seriously as a power in the Big10! If we are going to be an elite program, we have to beat Maryland. They have high school All-Americans at every position, we are not there yet. Our recruiting has to improve dramatically for us to be competitive with Maryland. As you look at the stats that T put up, it is easy to see what the difference is between the 2 teams, shooting! Maryland shot 53%, IU shot 44%. IU 4 for 17 from 3 point, Maryland 8 for 18 from 3 point. We only have 7 turnovers to their 13. Rebounding is basically even. The most glaring stat is free throws : Maryland is 12 for 15 while IU is 6 for 9? We need to work harder to get inside shots in order to draw fouls as Maryland does. I have said on this site more than once this year that IU’s lack of shooting the ball efficiently will cost them! The fact is we are a poor shooting team! I said it when the season started that our lack of shooting the ball will cost us against good teams, last night was proof of that! We need to work harder to get inside to draw fouls. Nine free throw attempts is not enough! Go Hoosiers!!

  4. Ali, needs up her mental game, in past years in games with Maryland and Ohio State her game performance was subpar. Ali needs to be like Grace Berger and rise to the challenge in these tough games, that’s the only way the team will get better.

  5. Grace Berger played her heart out , the kind of game Ali should be having but has not had of recent. Good games offensively from Berger and Holmes is not enough against the marylands of the world. My personal thoughts are Nikki should be starting , she came into this game not scared of the competition, Ali on the other hand did have that scard look. I was afraid of this game way before last night, I have watched the terps games and seen the way they can shoot the 3. IU cannot shoot it at that pace and havent since I dont know when.

  6. I would just like to point out that we lost to the number 12 team in the country, on their floor, by a grand total of four points. That happened after a miserable start, being down 19 to 5 to start the game.
    We missed countless opportunities to quit, and scared Maryland absolutely to death.
    I am personally proud of this team.
    We will hopefully see Maryland in the BigTen tournament, and maybe even one more time in the NCAA.

  7. Maryland shot lights out in that first quarter. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat and move forward. We outplayed them for the remainder of the contest.
    The most impressive thing to me about Grace Berger the past two games …… 12 assists, 0 turnovers.
    She is on the verge of ascending to another level.
    How will the rest of the regular season unfold? I predict these Hoosiers will run the table.

  8. scwartzie,
    Good to hear from ‘ya.
    I think a run of the table is very doable for this group. So many things could happen between now and the end of the season that could really mess things up for everybody, but I really like this team and their chances.
    I don’t know that I’ve seen a performance to rival Grace Berger’s for quite a while. She was able to score at will, especially in the second half when IU made several good runs. 51 points for the lady Hoosiers in the second half.
    GO IU!

  9. Another team looking very strong in the big ten is Mich. watched them beat NW by 21 pts. They will most likely stay undefeated till they see the terps or the hoosiers.

  10. IU Ladies are on a big ten competitive team plateau. They are going to stay there until they prove otherwise. IU Ladies should finish somewhere between winning conference and finishing 4th with winning big ten tournament and losing in championship game or semifinal. They have 3 losses. (IU ladies are a type of team that would benefit greatly by full schedule and normalcy because of their style of play and team chemistry probably more so than majority of teams). Of course other teams could say the same thing. However, IU Ladies talented players is the type of team that really needs to be in a rhythmic flow from game to game to maximize their potential. The Maryland loss IU ladies vomit 7 TOs, take a bunch more shots, and have a 2 rebound advantage and still lose game because IU Ladies didn’t shoot the ball well enough under physical intensity. Maryland loss though big ten loss isn’t as bad as KY and Tennessee loss. KY and Tennessee losses were No No’s.

  11. My mind keeps going back to IU making their comeback run against the terps, Key who is a great athlete intercepted a pass took it to the rim and blew the bunny, memory serves that this would have either tied the game or down 2. I dont know why key has such a problem with breakaway layups, but it has happened before with her. At any rate was a crusial time in the game and could have swung it in IU’s favor , but obviously did not.

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