INDIANAPOLIS — The Maryland women’s basketball team struggled with its three-point shot for more than 26 minutes in its Big Ten tournament contest against Indiana on Friday, missing its first six attempts from deep.
Then, in her first ever postseason game, guard Channise Lewis stepped up and hit a 3-pointer. Just over a minute later, she hit another.
That sparked a 9-0 run to end the third quarter, giving No. 2-seed Maryland a comfortable eight-point advantage — its largest of the night to that point — in its eventual 67-54 win over No. 7-seed Indiana.
Lewis, who finished with 10 points and six rebounds, said the triples gave her a lot of confidence to help Maryland see out the victory. Coach Brenda Frese said the freshman was “flawless.”
“I was just reading the defender and she was going up for a screen and I just took my shot and it went in,” Lewis said. “The second three, my teammates found me open and I shot it again, same confidence. It brought the fire to our team, and we just went on a run from there.”
Guard Kaila Charles led all players with 24 points and five assists. Forward Brianna Fraser had 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, while Charles and forward Stephanie Jones each had seven boards, helping the Terps outrebound the Hoosiers 39-26.
The last time the two teams squared off on Jan. 16, the lead changed 12 times before the Terps won by four points. Friday’s installment proved similar, with seven lead changes in the first half alone.
Indiana (17-14, 9-7 Big Ten), coming off a quadruple-overtime victory the previous night, showed fatigue early. Three of the Hoosiers’ first four possessions ended in turnovers as the Terps set the tone on defense.
“As far as our rhythm offensively, it seemed like nothing was easy for us tonight,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We knew we had to put points on the board in order to beat Maryland.”
Despite allowing Indiana to shoot 63 percent from the field in the first quarter, Maryland (24-6, 12-4) remained competitive by forcing seven turnovers in the frame. But the Terps’ offense didn’t come easy, either, until Charles found her groove.
The Hoosiers gave space to Maryland’s leading scorer, anticipating drives from the top of the key. However, Charles found plenty of success in her mid-range game, with 12 of her 14 first-half points coming on jump shots.
Charles’ efficiency helped the Terps make five of their final seven field goals of the half, giving them a two-point advantage at the break. Frese said Charles continues to “put the team on her back.”
“We were looking for the foul call and then we told each other, ‘We’re just going to have to play through this, it’s going to be physical,'” Charles said. “Once we got that mindset, we started getting to the basket, started getting shots and it started to open up for us.”
Maryland didn’t hit its first 3-pointer until nearly seven minutes into the second half, when Lewis connected from beyond the arc to give the Terps a 42-40 lead, igniting the run that ultimately separated them from the Hoosiers for good.
The Terps held Indiana to just four points for the final 4:34 of the game, finishing on a 13-4 run. They will face the winner of No. 6-seed Michigan and No. 3-seed Nebraska on Saturday night.
“Tonight was obviously a game of runs,” Frese said. “I’m proud of the fact that we were able to kind of sustain through that. We took great pride in wanting to advance and move on.”