No. 10 Indiana’s Nicole Cardaño-Hillary air-balled a contested fallaway three from the right corner with 1.3 seconds left and No. 13 Maryland’s Katie Benzan grabbed the rebound as time was expiring in a 67-64 Big Ten Tournament double bye-clinching victory for the Terrapins Friday night at XFINITY Center in College Park, Md.
Benzan had made a gutsy floater from the B1G logo in the paint to put the Terps up by the final margin with 11.8 seconds to go.
Maryland (21-7 overall) avenged a Jan. 2 overtime loss to the Hoosiers and finishes 13-4 in conference play, while the Hoosiers (19-7 overall) finish 11-5. Maryland is guaranteed to be in the Top 4 in in the league regardless of Sunday’s action, while the Hoosiers (fifth place) will not move into the Top 4 and will only receive a single bye. Had Indiana won, it would have been 12-4 and ahead of the Terps, who would have been 12-5.
Maryland has no chance to win the Big Ten regular-season title for the seventh time in eight years of participating in the conference. Instead, it will miss out on that for just the second time, with the other occurrence coming in 2018. The regular-season crown will go to either No. 6 Michigan, No. 21 Iowa or both Iowa and No. 17 Ohio State.
Angel Reese recorded her ninth 20-point double-double of the season for the Terps with 20 points and 16 boards (eight offensive). Benzan played all 40 minutes and finished with 10 points on 2-of-3 shooting from downtown to go along with six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Diamond Miller added 16 points and three blocks, while freshman Shyanne Sellers (2-of-3 from deep) was good for 12 points, three helpers and three swipes.
Maryland played without star point guard Ashley Owusu, who was out with an illness. Owusu played in the Terps’ previous game, which was against Michigan this past Sunday, but missed the four games before that with an ankle injury.
Cardaño-Hillary, who averages 11.5 points per game, scored just once in the contest, but it was a crucial 3-pointer to cut Indiana’s deficit to 65-64 with 35 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they just couldn’t get over that hump and tie or take the lead. The last time the game was tied was at 6-6 with 5:36 to go in the first and Indiana’s only lead was 2-0, which only lasted until the 8:06 mark of the opening frame.
Maryland led by as much as eight in the fourth, 11 in the third, 12 in the second and 11 in the first. However, Indiana got as close as five in the second and four in the third, so the Terps weren't able to hold a comfortable lead for large chunks of time.
Indiana’s leading scorer, Grace Berger, notched 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in defeat. Another Hoosier star in Mackenzie Holmes (11 points, six boards, three blocks) was 5-of-6 from the field in her fourth game back from a knee injury that kept her out 11 games. The third of Indiana’s big three, Ali Patberg, was 3-of-4 from distance for 13 points to go along with four helpers. Aleksa Gulbe added 11 points and eight boards.
Maryland’s double bye ensures that it won’t be making too early an exit from the conference tourney, but it could still use at least one win to help lock up a Top 4 seed and home court advantage for the first two rounds of the Big Dance. Entering Friday night, both the Terps and Hoosiers were No. 4 seeds in ESPN’s bracketology. Maryland has a good shot at moving up to the 3 line and an outside shot at the 2 line. The latter will likely only be possible if it wins the Big Ten Tournament.
The Terps conclude their regular season with a 14-1 record at XFINITY.