With under 20 seconds left in a 65-64 game, Terps guard Katie Benzan drove the ball deep into the paint and laid down a floater to make it a, 67-64, lead with 11 seconds left.
“I knew [Hoosiers guard Nicole] Cardano-Hillary, she’s been reaching all night, so I knew that was coming,” Benzan said. “I just read the defense and floated it right up and luckily enough it went in.”
After Indiana’s last second three pointer shot missed the mark on the next possession, No. 13 Maryland women’s basketball (21-7, B1G 13-4) survived and upset No. 10 Indiana (19-7, B1G 11-5) to close out the regular season with a, 67-64, win in front of a packed crowd at Xfinity Center.
“I can’t thank our crowd enough tonight for being our sixth man … and they brought all of that [energy] tonight,” head coach Brenda Frese said.
The vibrance of the crowd was needed, especially with starting guard Ashley Owusu out with an illness and guard Taisiya Kozlova, the seventh man, inactive as well.
Once again, in spite of adversity, the Terps pulled out a win and earned a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
“Locking up a double-bye is huge given the fact we don’t have the depth we had in the past so to have that extra day for your legs is going to make a big difference,” Frese said.
To outscore and eventually Indiana, Maryland, with its tight, six woman rotation, relied on its starpower to remain distanced from its visitors.
To start the contest, guard Diamond Miller continued her stellar play, knocking down a critical three pointer — her second bucket of 16 points in the game — that jump started a 10-0 Maryland run midway through the first quarter to build a double-digit lead.
Maryland also had success from beyond the arc as they knocked down four three-pointers by the beginning of the second quarter. The Terps shot 7-15 from range.
Angel Reese finished with a game-high 20 points and corralled 16 rebounds with eight on each end of the floor, to record her 16th double-double of the season. Her success down low was a product of the overall offensive cohesion Maryland enjoyed on all levels of the halfcourt.
Forward Chloe Bibby had a bit of an off night missing her first five shots before knocking down a big three pointer midway through the second quarter to increase the lead to 12 points, the Terps biggest lead of the game.
At halftime, Maryland led, 37-32. The Terps started the second half with Miller converting a layup in transition and a three-pointer off an Indiana turnover.
Midway through the third quarter, Reese bumped heads with Hoosiers guard Grace Berger and left the court with a cut on her nose.
Reese quickly returned to the game showered with cheers from fans during the break before the fourth quarter, looking to finish the game on top. At the break, Maryland led, 55-51.
“I was just looking forward to being back on the court and doing whatever it took to get through that fourth quarter,” Reese said.
Early in the fourth quarter, Sellers drove to the basket and made a layup to make it a six-point game. Sellers finished with 12 points and three steals.
Miller added a reverse layup with under three minutes left to put Maryland up, 65-59.
Miller also made critical plays on the defensive end down the stretch. At one point, the junior guard tipped an Indiana inbound pass to herself and drew a foul to regain possession.
With a little over a minute left, Miller blocked forward Aleksa Gulbe shot, Miller’s third of the night.
And on Indiana’s next possession, with 34.4 seconds left, Hoosiers guard Nicole Cardano-Hillary knocked down a three pointer, her first basket all night to make it a 65-64 game. Indiana briefly had life, but Benzan’s heroics lifted Maryland past the Hoosiers following the three-pointer and put the visitors’ winning hopes to rest.
Maryland will play next Friday in the Quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament and will look to find out its seeding next week.