COLLEGE PARK, Md. — As Maryland chipped away at Indiana women’s basketball’s large lead on Wednesday, the Hoosiers never looked panicked.
Sure, IU gave away more turnovers and slipped defensively as the Terrapins clawed their way back into the game in the third quarter. And that led to some understandable frustration, at times, both on the court and on the sideline.
But the Hoosiers never looked truly alarmed. They’re experienced, and they’ve been in similar situations before this season. Even with Sydney Parrish out, they didn’t lose their composure. They withstood Maryland’s third-quarter run and responded in the fourth quarter, is if they’d won at Xfinity Center 20 times before.
“I’m just really proud of the way that we handled ourselves tonight,” head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “And I think it’ll serve as great confidence moving forward. Some of those young kids are getting some really good experience right now, in meaningful games. That’s only going to help our club.”
Of course, Indiana had never won in College Park before Wednesday night. That’s part of why this game felt like such a big deal to Moren and her team.
For so long, the Terps presented a major road block for IU in the Big Ten. After joining the conference in 2014-15 — the same year Moren started in Bloomington — Maryland won 11 straight games against the Hoosiers. After finally earning a breakthrough victory in January 2022, Indiana has flipped the series around in recent years. This was its third straight win over the Terrapins and its fourth in five meetings.
But for a program that’s made such big strides and accomplished so much over the last three seasons, this was one thing IU still hadn’t done.
Maryland has had a disappointing year by its own standards, sitting at 12-9 overall — already tied for its most losses since 2010, with a month still remaining in the regular season. And UMD played without its leading scorer, Shyanne Sellers (15.4 points per game), on Wednesday. But Indiana still treated this like a big, important game, as if the Terps were as strong as ever.
The Hoosiers showed emotion on the court, as they often do. Freshman Lenée Beaumont oozed so much confidence in her mid-range jumper, it felt like Grace Berger pulling up. Mackenzie Holmes screamed as teammates made big plays. Even Moren, herself, jumped for joy when Chloe Moore-McNeil converted an important third-quarter bucket to stop a Maryland run.
The game got dicey in the second half, but Moren wasn’t concerned with that after a win like this. She beamed with delight in the team’s huddle after postgame handshakes, and exclaimed, “We did it. Box checked. Let’s go.”
That satisfaction extended into the press conference. She praised her team’s experience in closing out the game, and looked particularly proud of assistant coach Ali Patberg for compiling a strong scouting report.
Yes, her group had an even tougher assignment on deck. But that could wait. She wanted to savor this one a bit more.
“All the credit goes to these players and our staff, and how hard our staff prepares. This was Ali Patberg’s scouting report, her prep. And so she had these guys ready, certainly,” Moren said. “But at the end of the day, it’s the players that have to make all the plays and put you in position to win ballgames.”
While this game was a big deal to IU, its next one has much greater big-picture implications. The Hoosiers travel to Columbus to face Ohio State, which joins IU and Iowa as Big Ten title contenders. This is one of three remaining games between the teams, with each playing one at home and one away. If anyone gets a road win in one of those games, that team would gain a leg up toward an outright league title.
Indiana’s biggest road games this season haven’t gone well. The Hoosiers got blown out at No. 4 Stanford in the second game of the year, and dropped a lopsided game at No. 3 Iowa in mid-January. They got the job done against Purdue at a raucous Mackey Arena, but the Boilermakers have a losing record this season. Winning at Maryland is similar — a milestone for IU’s program, but perhaps not the cornerstone victory it would be in most seasons.
The Buckeyes will present a big test. They knocked IU out of the Big Ten Tournament last season with a heavy dose of press defense, which the Hoosiers struggled against.
Maryland threw some press at Indiana on Wednesday, part of the second-half adjustments that made the game closer. IU handled the press without much issue, but Ohio State’s will be stingier and more relentless.
But while simply beating a down Maryland team may not be a confidence-booster, in of itself, closing out a significant road win after momentum turned can be. It’s another reminder of the Hoosiers’ experience in these situations — that they’re good enough to overcome those sort of circumstances.
“Everybody’s really good at home. I throw the rankings out of it. Everybody is comfortable in their own gym, their own surroundings, their routine, all of it,” Moren said. “I think we all were on edge knowing that they were going to come out, they were going to be aggressive, and we had to be able to handle it. I think it helps when you have an experienced team, there’s no doubt about it. We still have a lot of basketball ahead of us.”
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