When IU needed a bucket at the end of the game, the Hoosiers turned to junior guard Tyra Buss.
The Hoosiers led by as much as 23 in the first half. The No. 20 Michigan Wolverines clawed their way back and cut it down to as close as eight points. IU was in the midst of a five-plus minute scoring drought when Buss hit a free throw. Seconds later, she stuck the dagger in the heart of the Wolverines with a floater from the right side of the lane.
IU held on down the stretch to notch its first win against a ranked team this season by beating No. 20 Michigan, 72-61, Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am and thrilled for our players,” IU Coach Teri Moren said. “We talked about the significance of this game in particular. I thought they answered the bell in a big way.”
Michigan wasn’t hitting shots early, but it was only a matter of time until they did. The Wolverines came in with the second-best field goal percentage in the Big Ten. In the second half, they shot 47 percent, which is also their overall average. Buss said after the game Michigan made it tougher on them because of their pressure. She continued by saying the Hoosiers were rushing shots and they weren’t getting the shots they wanted.
Moren summed it up quite frankly when asked what enabled Michigan to make a run in the fourth quarter.
“They’re really good,” Moren said. “As we said to the guys at halftime, this is not new for them. In their last two of three games, they’ve been down at half and they just fought their way back. It was a matter of time before they knocked down some of those shots.”
The Hoosiers had just about the best start imaginable. As for Michigan, it was the exact opposite. After junior forward Amanda Cahill got the Hoosiers on the board with a 3-pointer, IU never gave up that lead all night. After Michigan made it 10-8, the Hoosiers took control with a 13-0 run counteracted by the Wolverines going more than seven minutes scoreless.
IU’s lead going into the fourth quarter was at 19 points. Then Michigan had it down to nine points. The Wolverines ripped off 10 consecutive points, and all of a sudden it was a game again. IU went scoreless for more than five minutes.
The Hoosiers knew the stakes coming into Thursday’s matchup with the No. 20 Wolverines. This win against Michigan was IU’s first top 50 RPI win of the season. Adding this game to the résumé was something the Hoosiers needed, and Buss said it was extremely important to do so.
“Coach was talking and saying we needed a signature win,” Buss said. “We hadn’t really had one yet. Today’s game was really important, and we all knew that going in. We had a good two days of prep, and I thought we were really prepared.”
The Hoosiers currently hold the four-seed in the Big Ten Tournament with an 8-5 conference record. IU has won three straight games heading into its second-to-last road game of the season against the 1-11 Nebraska Cornhuskers on Sunday in Lincoln.
With three games left to play, the Hoosiers can’t let up if they want to see themselves in the NCAA Tournament. Moren said after the game there is still a lot of basketball left on the schedule.
“We have a tendency at Indiana to always make things interesting,” Moren said.
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