By Arnie Leshin
I hope Santa Fe’s own Gene Hackman was watching this.
There were the Hoosiers, who prepare not to be called the “Lady” Hoosiers, racing out in Hoosier colors, red tops and striped red and white warm-up pants, as the nation’s No. 8 Division I women’s basketball team to face perennial Big Ten power Maryland, No. 6 in the land and never beaten
by these Hoosiers.
While the publicity always goes to the Indiana men and was the exiting, moving movie, “Hoosiers” starring Hackman, who recently turned 90, the school’s women have never reached these heights, not even close.
But they’ve taking big steps, as in making the Elite Eight for the first time last season, and posting their best-ever overall record until falling to Arizona in the 2021 NCAA tournament.
Now they’ve taking step two, a huge step after finally securing a victory over these Terapins and ending an 0-for-11 losing streak. It came 70-63 in overtime before a full house at Indian’s Assembly Hall Arena.
Maryland, now 10-3 overall and with its first loss in three Big Ten starts, led early, but this was not the Hoosiers it had faced before, a 7-4 lead didn’t stay long as Indiana made shots from inside and outside, played aggressive defense, and from first going in front 11-10, held a 33-29 halftime lead and the crowd gave it a rousing ovation as it headed to the locker room.
It turned into a back-and-fourth game that had the hometown fans flipping out. Down the stretch they game and the Hoosiers forced the overtime on a side jumper by with six seconds left in regulation. Knowing now it could actually win one over Maryland, they held the lead from the start of the extra time to outscoring the Terps, 11-4, after regulation ended at 59-all.
At the final buzzer, the Hoosier ladies stormed the court, and many of the happy fans joined them. Indiana finally grabbed the spotlight, the headlines, and if Hackman happened to watch it or learned of it, he must have been overjoyed.
Heck, even the men’s athletic teams at the school must have had a ball seeing their women finally grab the spotlight and headlines.