INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana All-Star girls coach Curt Benge said he knew Maliah Howard-Bass was good, but after having seen her all week, claimed she is even better than advertised.

The Columbus North graduate was in the starting lineup for the first game of the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star series Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Kentucky won 75-67, but Howard-Bass hit two early 3-pointers to help Indiana go on a 21-4 run to start the game.

“I knew she could shoot,” Benge said. “Her basketball IQ, knowing where to find the open spot and her ability to rebound are the two things that shocked me that I didn’t know she could do as well as she does … She adds a great dimension to our team.”

Howard-Bass finished with six points. She went 2-of-6 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range. She also had two rebounds and two steals in 16 minutes of playing time.

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Indiana ended the first half with a 33-25 lead but a 12-4 run to open the second half brought Kentucky within two. Kentucky went on a 17-4 run later in the half to pull away.

“The first 10 minutes, I thought I shot really well,” Howard-Bass said. “The rest of the game, it just wasn’t falling, and I didn’t get enough shots up, but besides that, I think we played well as a team.”

Dana Evans led Indiana with 18 points, but Miss Basketball Karissa McLaughlin of Homestead was the only other Indiana player in double figures with 12. Jaelyn Penn led Kentucky with 20.

Indiana will play Kentucky again at 2 p.m. today in Frankfort, Kentucky in the first game of a girls-boys doubleheader.

Howard-Bass will be playing for Ball State next season. She said playing with and against All-Stars will help her point out her weakness and know what she needs to work on going into next year.

“It’s a good milestone for me just to measure myself with other competition,” Howard-Bass said. “It’s a huge experience. Only 13 girls get to enjoy this experience. I’m very blessed and thankful to be one of the 13.”

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5632.