Saturday, March 31, 2018 9:00 pm
Indiana 65, Virginia Tech 57
Indiana wins WNIT title
Elizabeth Wyman | For The Journal Gazette
BLOOMINGTON – In front of a women's basketball record-breaking crowd of 13,007, Indiana defeated Virginia Tech 65-57 in the WNIT championship game Saturday at Assembly Hall.
“Our ultimate goal was to make it to the NCAA Tournament and since that didn’t happen, we made the most of our postseason run and we’re still going to be able to hang a banner,” senior guard Tyra Buss said. “Amanda (Cahill) and I will come back and well be able to look up there and see that we helped get that banner and we helped win a championship.”
After feeling snubbed for an NCAA Tournament bid, coach Teri Moren and her team weren’t going to sulk. If anything, the Hoosiers’ anger turned to motivation.
“We all felt like we should have been in the tournament,” Moren said. “To be left out of the conversation gave us motivation that if we were going to be in the NIT, we were going to play this thing to win it.”
As her career comes to an end, Buss can’t help but recollect on how far her team has come this season.
“The fact that we just kept fighting together and the growth that we’ve made all season really shows a lot about this group,” Buss said. “It’s definitely going to be hard leaving them.”
Buss, who holds school records in free throws (633), assists (574) and steals (293), was named WNIT MVP. The all-time leading scorer in Indiana women’s basketball history once again led the Hoosiers with 16 points.
Moren calls her seniors “the whole package."
“They’re great students. They’re great, obviously athletes, and they carry themselves a way that makes us really proud,” Moren said. “They’re going to go down in history as two of the very, very best.”
For now, Buss and Cahill are just soaking in the moment of being champions.
“We got to end on a win, we got to end in front of our crowd,” Buss said. “It was really important for us to get this win, get a championship and get to hang a banner; the trophies all of that is awesome, but just the people that I got to do it with is what means the most to me.”
Buss and Cahill leave Indiana (23-14) as part of the program's all-time winningest senior class with 82 wins.
“It’s definitely a very bittersweet feeling,” Cahill said. “We’re obviously really honored that we had the chance to keep playing and that we got to go out on a win, but it’s going to be sad taking (the uniform) off.”
In the first half, the Hoosiers looked as a team that won the five previous tournament games by at least 13 points per game. Taking an 11-point lead and a 6-0 run spanning just 55 seconds into halftime, Moren’s team looked like a championship was 20 minutes away.
But a lackluster third quarter, which featured a Virginia Tech 14-3 run, left Indiana down by one heading into the fourth. Taylor Emery led Virginia Tech (23-14) with 23 points.
Moren said she preached to her team the importance of winning the fourth quarter.
“Our kids showed tremendous fight, resilience because nothing was happening for us easy,” Moren said.
Freshman Bendu Yeaney wasn’t going to send off her senior mentors, Buss and Cahill off on a sour note. Two quick layups by the guard helped the Hoosiers regain the lead, 47-44.
Yeaney finished with 14 points, nine of those coming in the fourth.