After the final buzzer, Maryland players Diamond Miller and Lavender Briggs exchanged a smile and hug despite being defeated by the Hawkeyes.
“A moment in games when you feel like you gave your all out there and you still can’t get over the hump. It’s kind of like a moment, and that’s what I did,“ Miller said. “Just to have the support that even when you’re down you know your teammates still got your back.“
No. 3 Maryland lost to No. 2 Iowa in a game of threes and fast-paced plays. Iowa defeated Maryland 89-84 and is going to play in its third straight championship appearance, facing Ohio State Sunday at 5 p.m.
Iowa ended the first quarter shooting 68 percent from the field. Caitlin Clark left the first half with 16 points, three rebounds and four assists.
Going into the second quarter, the Hawkeyes led the Terrapins 26-18. The crowd swelled after Marshall sank a field goal behind the perimeter – increasing the Hawkeye’s lead.
“Those that were here made a lot of noise those that couldn’t come, we know you were getting your support from home, and we just want to bring people joy,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said.
The first half was a game of runs and high-intensity basketball. Both teams kept putting the ball back, and their shots kept falling, but the Hawkeyes were up five points, leading 47-42. It was a two-possession game at halftime in Minneapolis.
“I’ve got no complaints when you talk about the heart and the hustle that we left out there for 40 minutes,” Coach Brenda Frese said. “I thought we were able just to keep our poise and composure; you won’t see that in the NCAA Tournament. We’ll be happy to host at our place and have our crowd behind us, but just super, super proud of the group and fighting for 40 minutes.”
With 7:41 left in the third quarter, Diamond Miller exited the court limping but returned with an update explaining that her ankle was hurting.
Maryland came over an early 12-point deficit with a minute and 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
A one-possession game heading into the fourth quarterl Sellers, with an underhand shot closed the gap 68-70 with 6:37 left on the clock. Miller sped down the floor with a quick pass to Masonius, who made the field goal, tying the game 79-79 with less than two minutes left.
Despite the gap decreasing, the Terps could not stop the threes made in transition by the Hawkeyes.
“They [Hwawkeyes] made some big shots down the stretch, and we weren’t able to kind of adjust and take them out of their rhythm,” Abby Meyers said. “We tied it in the fourth quarter, and then they were able to get that three-point after so, I think what we need to get better at is digging deep in those moments when it really matters and sticking to our principles and really trying to get those important plays that we know can make a difference.”
Iowa led 84-79 with 45 seconds left in the semifinal game as Clark stepped up to the charity stripe and made one for two.
Maryland finished with 83 percent in free throws and had 34 rebounds. Iowa ended with 24 assists and 12 turnovers.
Two games in two days for the Terps did not wear down the team in this semifinal game.
“We did a great job recovery-wise. I think everybody felt good. I felt good,” Miller said. “I just think, you know, we’re ready. We’re going to continue to get better, and learn and move on.”
Despite not moving on to the championship game against Ohio State, the Terps played aggressively and maintained a close possession game.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way this time. But you’ve seen us play and there were times they went our way. So just know we’re gonna get back, and we’re gonna get better and we got two weeks now,” Miller said. “So we got a lot of regrouping to do, but we love being in these situations. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Miller and Meyers finished with 21 points apiece, while Faith Masonius and Shyanne Sellers also broke double digits with ten points.
Sellers led her team in six rebounds and eight assists. Meyers and Miller ended the game with six rebounds each.
Hawkeyes had five players break double digits, with Caitlin Clark leading her team 22 points and nine assists. McKenna Warnock had 21 points and eight rebounds, followed by Gabbie Marshall (21 points), Monika Czinano with 15 points and Katie Martin who had a high of nine rebounds, seven assists and 10 points.
The Hawkeyes outlasted the Terps after losing to Maryland at the XFINITY Center. It was an all-around effort by the Iowa Hawkeyes as they play against Ohio State in the championships.