The trip became another one-and-done for the University of Indianapolis women’s basketball team on Friday, March 14, as the Greyhounds fell victim to the Wayne State University Warriors, 63-58, in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament.
Despite having a 3-0 all-time record entering the contest against Wayne State, including a 102-72 victory earlier this season at home in Nicoson Hall, UIndy fell to the revenge-seeking Warriors, who did just enough at the end of the game to seal the victory and advance. The loss sent the Greyhounds home in the first round for the third-straight season.
The first half was an offensive struggle for both teams, in terms of turnovers. The Greyhounds coughed up 10 of them, while the Warriors committed nine. The turnovers by both teams took away several offensive opportunities, resulting in a low-scoring first half. The Greyhounds went into the locker room at the break ahead by a slim margin, 28-26.
Wayne State Head Women’s Basketball Coach Carrie Lohr said that turnovers played a significant role in the outcome of the first half of the game and was something she wanted to fix heading into the second half.
“We definitely talked about that at half time,” Lohr said. “Turning the ball over when a team is not pressing you is really unacceptable. But on the flipside of it, we do want to play a fast game. So we do end up hurrying a little bit too much, and we did turn the ball over, I thought, when we were in a hurry and we were trying to transition.”
Much like the first half, the second half continued a back-and-forth battle between both teams, who traded the lead multiple times. UIndy seemed to seize control later in the half, however, as the Greyhounds went on an 8-0 scoring run to pull ahead 54-47.
The Warriors bounced back quickly and erased that deficit less than a minute later, cutting the Greyhounds’ lead to two points.
With 2:15 remaining, the Greyhounds grabbed their last lead of the game with a layup by senior forward/center Eliza Wortman, putting UIndy ahead by one point. The Warriors were not going to be denied the revenge they sought, however, as Wayne State took control of the last two minutes of the game, and went on a 6-0 scoring run to seal the first-round victory and advance to the next round of the tournament.
Head Women’s Basketball Coach Constantin Popa said that even though Wayne State did what it took to win in the closing minutes, he believed the Greyhounds could have sealed the victory themselves, but did not.
“We had everything in our hands,” Popa said. “They [Wayne State] changed their defense a little bit. But based on some of the games we have played so far, we have knocked down shots before. So we just couldn’t hit shots.”
Wortman led the Greyhounds in scoring, with 18 points, followed by senior guard Rose Savela, who contributed 11 points of her own. Wortman said that her performance during the game was made possible by the guards’ ability to feed her passes inside for easy looks at multiple layups.
The Greyhounds will be rebuilding their roster heading into next season, because they will lose seven seniors, including Wortman and Savela, along with two-time All-Midwest First Team guard Katy McIntosh.
Popa said that he is proud of what this senior class accomplished, and that what they accomplished does not happen very often.
“There are not a whole lot of schools, I don’t care what division you want to call it, that have the same class come in and [the] same class graduate. And I’m really proud of them,” Popa said. “We went through good things. We went through bad things. We went through injuries. We went through this and this, and they stuck together. And you just don’t see that a whole lot.”
The 2013-2014 UIndy women’s basketball program concluded its season at 23-9 overall, with a 13-5 record in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.