MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Trailing by three with 22 seconds left, No. 5 Maryland drew up a play to get the ball into the hands of one of its top 3-point shooters. But Iowa’s stifling defense forced Abby Meyers into an off-balanced, awkward shot, and the second-seeded Hawkeyes corralled the rebound to seal an 89-84 win.
No. 3 seed Maryland (25-6) closed a six-point gap late in the third to give itself a chance to tie the game but couldn’t convert the final possession in front of an announced crowd of 9,375 at Target Center.
“We tried to push me through,” Meyers said, “see if we could get Lavender [Briggs] a shot or me in the corner, but they guarded that well. I saw an opportunity, took it, didn’t fall this time, but luckily we have another game.”
Defensively, the Terps struggled Saturday to contain Iowa’s starting five, all of whom reached double-digit scoring. Three Hawkeyes — Caitlin Clark, Gabbie Marshall and McKenna Warnock — scored at least 20 points.
It was a stark contrast to when the two sides last met. Maryland trounced Iowa (25-6) at home in late February 96-68. In that game, Clark had 18 points, and no member of the opposition reached 20 points.
But on Saturday, Marshall made a season-high seven 3-pointers en route to 21 points, and Clark, who had a rough shooting game in the quarterfinal Friday versus Purdue, had a game-high. As a team, the Hawkeyes shot a whopping 40 threes, making 15 of them. Clark, who missed six of her first seven attempts from three against Purdue, started the game 3-for-3. She finished with a game-high 22 points. McKenna Warnock also contributed 21.
“They were hitting really good threes,” Diamond Miller said. “They hit more threes than what we expected for sure. I think their role players played really well.”
There were several injury scares for Maryland. Shyanne Sellers left at the 4:30 mark of the second after taking a hard foul that led the Ohio native to clash her head against the court, and Miller twisted her ankle in the third. However, both players returned to a game where their contributions were desperately needed.
Miller tied with Meyers for a team-high 21 points, which saw her pass Lynetta Kizer for 12th on Maryland’s all-time scoring list. Miller, who set the single-season record this year for made free throws, got to the line 16 times. More than half of her 21 points came from the stripe. Sellers had 10 points and eight assists.
“I was just super proud of my teammates for the way we just kept fighting through the weather in the game,” Miller said.
Maryland’s only lead of the evening came when it had a 4-2 advantage. For the rest of the match, every time the Terps made a shot, the Hawkeyes answered with a basket of their own.
“It was just one of those games that it felt like we just couldn’t kind of get over that hump,” Frese said. “Every time we closed the gap and would be a possession away, they would get an o-board to a great shot.”
Iowa started strong, making 67 percent of its shots from the field in the first and five of its eight 3-pointers. After the opening 10 minutes, the Hawkeyes led by eight, but Maryland won the second and third quarters.
Maryland tied it up with 2:19 to go before Iowa opened a six-point gap. A pair of Faith Masonius free throws and a Briggs clutch three pulled the Terps within one. But two more free throws for Iowa upped the lead to three, and Meyers couldn’t get the tying shot to drop.
“Super proud of our group,” Frese said. “This felt like an elite eight matchup. It’s unfortunate that any team had to lose this game tonight, but I got no complaints when you talk about the heart and the hustle that we left out there for 40 minutes.”
The Terps will now have to wait to hear their path in the NCAA tournament. With Utah losing in the quarterfinal of the Pac-12 Tournament and LSU losing in the SEC semifinal, Maryland could yet sneak into one of the remaining one seed spots.
And while Meyers, who has always been lower than a 10 seed, will be happy with whatever the selection committee gives Maryland, Miller and the coaching staff will anxiously be watching come March 12.