Buss Scores 30, Leads IU to WNIT Final Four

Buss Scores 30, Leads IU to WNIT Final Four

BLOOMINGTON, IN (WFIE) - Amanda Cahill didn't mess around.

Not with these title-hopeful stakes.

Tyra Buss wasn't about to let Indiana blow this WNIT opportunity.

Not when she could once again make the improbable routine.

The Hoosier seniors rose when they were most needed, and their teammates rose with them -- again.

The result was an 81-66 WNIT victory over UC Davis Sunday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and an upcoming semifinal berth.

Two more victories would give IU its first WNIT championship.

"We keep talking about winning it," coach Teri Moren said. "We've stayed steady with one game at a time, and not look past anyone.

"It's all about our kids. We focus on them. We put together a game plan to help them be successful."

Added Buss: "We want to keep playing as long as we can and go out with a win and not a loss."

How much did this mean to the seniors? Consider an exhausted and battered Buss limped to the bench after three quarters with no intention of coming out.

"I was all right," she said. "I stepped on someone's foot and came down on it wrong. I walked it off and I was OK."

Cahill and Buss have played in 80 victories, tying the program senior-class record set last season by Jenn Anderson, Karlee McBride and Alexis Gassion.

"Coming in we both wanted to have an impact on the program and get things going," Cahill said. "We worked really hard. We've had a lot of fun playing together. It shows hard work does pay off."

Added Buss: "We came to IU to build the program up to what it deserves to be. Our hard work shows. It really paid off.

"Being the leaders, it means a lot. We'll continue to keep working. Hopefully we get to hang a banner and win the WNIT."

Some teams, after not making the NCAA tourney, go through the postseason motions.

Not the Hoosiers. They've won four WNIT games by an average margin of 20.3 points.

"We've rebounded quite well from that," Moren said about NCAA tourney disappointment. "We put that past us the night we didn't get in.

"We set our sights that if we're going to be in the WNIT, we want to win it. You see the urgency. They've been ready to go.

"When you're playing this deep into March, you must be doing something well. We're doing some things really well."

Indiana (21-14), winners of 13 of its last 15 games, needed an early spark against road-weary UC Davis and Cahill delivered in the way any coach would want from a senior:

Big.

Cahill hit three-pointers. She scored in the paint. She rebounded and defended and engaged at every opportunity.

Cahill didn't reach her Michigan State form, when she totaled 38 points in a four-overtime Big Ten tourney epic, but she didn't have to. Her 24 points (including 8-for-8 free throw shooting) and 10 rebounds for her 40th career double-double were more than enough despite foul trouble.

"My teammates did a good job of finding me," Cahill said. "We were trying to get the best shot, whether it was in the post or outside. I got a three-pointer off a designed play. Just running our stuff in the flow of the offense."

Then there was the 5-8 Buss, who besides scoring (30 points), rebounding (seven), passing (five assists) and defending (four steals) blocked 6-4 forward Morgan Bertsch's shot.

Hoosier balance was provided by Bendu Yeaney's 12 points, six rebounds and three steals.

IU had a big edge in rest. It beat Purdue on Thursday night, and didn't have to travel. UC Davis (28-7) won at Kansas State on Friday night, then headed to Bloomington.

The Aggies, winners of 10 of their last 12 games coming in, were led by Bertsch, who averaged 20.4 points (28 in postseason play) and 4.4 rebounds. Containing her was a top priority, and the Hoosiers succeeded. She finished with 13 points and five rebounds.

UC Davis had thrived on the road with a 12-4 record away from home, but they hadn't faced an even larger Assembly Hall crowd than the one that had sparked the Hoosiers over the Boilers. Official attendance was 6,001, the largest home crowd since 2008.

That energy didn't help early. IU started 0-for-3 from the field with four turnovers. The result -- a 7-2 opening deficit.

The Hoosiers regrouped to take their first lead, at 11-10, on a Yeaney basket with five minutes left in the opening period. They extended the lead to 16-10 before settling for a 23-15 first-quarter advantage.

They scored the first eight points of the second quarter to build the advantage to 16 points and pushed for more.

Mission accomplished.

Cahill's second three-pointer gave IU a 47-27 halftime lead.

Hoosier victory seemed inevitable – until UC Davis scored the first seven points of the third quarter, and 10 of the first 12.

In seven minutes, the Aggies hit four three-pointers and cut 11 points off IU's lead.

Then Buss took charge with a couple of clutch baskets.

The threat was over.

IU was moving on.

"When you have kids like Amanda and Tyra," Moren said, "sooner or later they figure it out."

This will be the Hoosiers' third time in the WNIT Final Four. In 1991, they reached the championship game, but the field was just eight. They also made the Final Four in 1998 when it was just 16 teams.

Now there are 64.

"We have a lot of hunger," Buss said. "We're focused on being prepared every day. We trust our teammates and our coaches. It's really paying off."

Courtesy:  IUHooisers.com    Copyright 2018, WFIE, All rights reserved,