Through three quarters between IU women’s basketball and Penn State on Monday night, no one had quite seized control of the game. The Hoosiers held a slim lead at half, and the Nittany Lions clung to a one-point lead entering the fourth.
On a night when neither team shot the ball particularly well, it seemed apparent that whoever put together a late run would take command for good. The Hoosiers came out hot in the final frame and grabbed a lead they would never let slip as IU defeated Penn State 72-64 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
“We needed to respond there in the beginning of the fourth, and I thought we did in a big way,” IU Coach Moren said. “I think we went to (senior forward) Jenn Anderson a couple times and got high percentage shots, and then from there we got to the free-throw line, which was big for us, especially in the fourth.”
With Penn State holding a 45-44 lead as the fourth quarter began, Moren was focused on locking down defensively. Doing that, she said, would lead to effective offense. The Hoosiers allowed just two points in the first seven minutes of the fourth, and by then IU was firmly in control.
On the offensive end, IU made just three baskets in the fourth quarter but shot 24 free throws. Junior guard Tyra Buss went 8 of 8 from the stripe in the quarter and led all IU scorers with 21 points in the game. She echoed Moren’s sentiments that defense was the primary focus as the game wound down.
“Obviously defense is always important, but especially toward the end of the game,” Buss said. “They were making a bit of a comeback there so getting those stops translated into our offense as well.”
One of the main reasons Penn State got out to an early lead and stayed close throughout the game was the offensive rebounding of the Nittany Lions. Penn State had 13 second-chance points in the game, which left Moren upset with her team’s rebounding.
“Not happy with the way we rebounded tonight,” she said. “The fact that they got 74 shot attempts to our 49 had a lot to do with their 16 offensive rebounds, so I’m disappointed with that.”
Penn State had four players register multiple offensive rebounds. Sophomore guard Teniya Page led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 22 points. Senior guard Sierra Moore was the only other Penn State player in double figures with 11 points.
IU’s junior forward Amanda Cahill registered a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards, and senior guard Alexis Gassion also contributed 12 points to go along with seven assists. As usual, the big three of Buss, Gassion and Cahill provided most of IU’s total scoring.
With the win, IU moved to 4-3 in the Big Ten and knocked Penn State to 3-5 in the conference. There are currently eight Big Ten teams with three or four conference wins, so Moren said the momentum of Monday’s victory could help IU start rising toward the top of the Big Ten standings.
“Grind-out win tonight for our gang,” Moren said. “It turned into a terrific ballgame between two teams that are trying to separate themselves from the muddled middle of the Big Ten right now.”
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