When the final buzzer echoed through the arena, Diamond Miller turned to her teammate Lavender Briggs for support. The two sighed before embracing after falling 89-84 in a clash against Iowa in the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament semifinals.
“Even when you’re down, you know your teammates still got your back,” Miller said.
Despite the Terps’ loss to the Hawkeyes, Maryland women’s basketball doesn’t feel defeated. Instead, the Terps are using the game as a lesson on what to expect in the NCAA tournament.
“This felt like an Elite Eight matchup,” coach Brenda Frese said. “I’ve got no complaints when you talk about the heart and the hustle that we left out there for 40 minutes.”
The Terps’ only lead came when they were up 4-2. A three-pointer from Caitlin Clark put them behind and forced them to play catch-up for the rest of the game. Iowa went on to win the tournament championship Sunday by smashing Ohio State, 105-72.
Maryland finally tied the game late in the fourth quarter with a fastbreak layup from Faith Masonius, but the Hawkeyes pulled back ahead soon after, ending the Terps’ dreams of a tournament championship.
ESPN predicts Maryland will earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. But before the Terps can make a deep run, they’ll need to execute in pivotal moments, Abby Meyers said.
Meyers had the opportunity to tie the game late, but couldn’t get an open look and missed her three-point attempt with eight seconds left on the clock.
“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,” she said.
Miller, who’s made two Sweet Sixteen appearances with the Terps, saw her team’s resilience as they kept the game close despite a majority-Iowa crowd. She said her team will continue making small improvements in their time before the NCAA tournament starts.
But she believes they’re ready.
“I just love battling with these girls,” Miller said. “We’re gonna get back and we’re gonna get better, and we got two weeks now. So we got a lot of regrouping to do but yeah, we love being in these situations and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
The Big Ten’s numerous competitive teams have prepared Maryland to face the game’s elite, Frese said.
The conference’s talent reminds her of the 2006 season when three ACC teams made the Final Four: Duke, North Carolina and Maryland. The Terps prevailed over all, beating the Blue Devils in the national championship.
Similarly, this year’s Big Ten boasts multiple teams that could make deep runs. Maryland is among them — rebounding from the semifinal loss will be crucial if it wants to continue its season.
“We don’t need to hang our head. We can go back and know that we left everything out there and then just correct it and be ready for what lies ahead,” Frese said.