Indiana women’s basketball saw its remarkable season end in heartbreaking fashion Monday.
The No. 1-seeded Hoosiers fell to Miami (Fla.), 70-68, on a shot in the paint by guard Destiny Harden. Both teams traded big shots in the fourth quarter, but it was the Hoosiers who ultimately came up on the wrong end.
Here are three keys to the defeat.
Miami dictated everything in the first half
The Hurricanes, from the opening tip through the halftime buzzer, were in full control. They opened the game with an inside bucket to set the tone, and played the next 20 minutes like they were the higher-seeded team.
Miami played extremely physical on both ends, and matched that with impressive quickness. The Hoosiers had trouble keeping up. And what really hurt them was simply poor shot-making. IU was cold for much of the half. Indiana shot 34 percent from the field and went 1 for 8 from 3-point range.
And that, more than the quickness or physicality, or inconsistent officiating, is why Indiana fell behind by so much. The Hurricanes built a double-digit lead during the first quarter, and IU was unable to cut into it for very long. The Hurricanes were hitting their open shots, but also tough, contested looks, and they responded in big moments when the crowd came alive.
The third-quarter Hoosiers returned
Indiana hasn’t done it in every single game, but the Hoosiers have played some of their best basketball this season during third quarters.
IU’s coaching staff has so often struck the right notes in the halftime locker room, making key adjustments, and brought a blazing hot team out for the third quarter. And that’s what happened again on Monday.
Grace Berger came out and opened the quarter with a three-pointer, quickly followed by a defensive stop, and then another Berger layup. She dominated the beginning of the quarter, doing whatever possible to will her team back into the game. And then Mackenzie Holmes, whose availability and capability was uncertain because of lingering knee soreness, found a rhythm. She displayed a little more bounce and a little more agility after halftime.
Holmes went 2 for 9 from the field for four points in the first half, but turned it around and shot 5 for 6 for 10 points in just the third quarter.
And on the other end, Miami went ice cold. The Hurricanes shot just 3 for 15 from the field. Indiana’s defense was much more sound, closing out on shooters more effectively, and forcing more mistakes by Miami.
The Hurricanes landed the decisive blow
This game was like a boxing match in multiple ways.
The physicality, combined with inconsistent officiating that let a lot of contact slide, led to a lot of bodies hitting the floor all evening. But it turned into a metaphorical boxing match in the fourth quarter, in a tight game that saw both teams hitting clutch shot after clutch shot.
Freshman Yarden Garzon hit three clutch 3-pointers in the final period, each one bigger than the last. On the final one, with seven seconds left, she made a crossover move, stepped back behind the arc, and unloaded the biggest shot of Indiana’s season to tie the game. But the Hurricanes answered by getting the ball to Harden in the paint, who faced up against Berger. And the Miami graduate student gathered, then let it go; the ball hit the left side of the rim, but rolled in.
Indiana ran down the floor looking for an answer, but Chloe Moore-McNeil was sidetracked by a Miami defender. The clock expired, and Indiana’s season came to an end.
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