After missing the NCAA Tournament, IU wasted no time forgetting about it.
In the first game of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, the Hoosiers got out to a hot start and withstood every comeback attempt by Ball State.
IU defeated Ball State 71-58 and advanced in the WNIT on Thursday at Simon Skojdt Assembly Hall.
IU Coach Teri Moren said her team did a good job of putting the disappointment of missing out on the NCAA Tournament behind them.
“We’re playing for a lot,” Moren said. “That’s the motivation and I’ve got competitive kids. I would expect nothing more than their very best. It's about competing and you’ve got a screw loose if you don’t get excited and fired up to do that.
In the first quarter, IU unleashed an offensive barrage, making eight of its first 12 shots. After Ball State made the first basket of the game, IU ripped off a 12-nothing run and controlled the beginning of the game.
The Hoosiers outscored the Cardinals by 16 in the opening quarter, shooting a blistering 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.
The lead ballooned to 23 midway through the second quarter, but late in the half, Ball State began to cut back into the lead.
The last 4:23 of the first half, Ball State went on a 14-3 run as IU’s offense struggled with turnovers. In the first half, the Hoosiers had 11 turnovers, which allowed the Cardinals to get out in transition.
After halftime, Moren said she wanted to see better energy from her team.
“The thing that I challenged our group was not to go out in the second half with low energy and not motivated because it was really important that we have a good third quarter,” Moren said.
IU outscored Ball State by six in the third quarter, and the Hoosiers would have to withstand another run by the Cardinals in the fourth quarter.
Senior center Jenn Anderson made only two baskets in the second half, but each was pivotal.
Each of Anderson’s second half buckets came when IU needed to stem a Ball State run. Twice in the second half, Ball State cut IU’s lead to eight, but each time Anderson answered back with a score that pushed IU’s lead back out.
“Very critical,” junior guard Tyra Buss said. “Jenn always seems to come in clutch for us whenever we need a point, a couple points, to get up on them.”
The first came with just under seven minutes left to go in the fourth quarter after Ball State scored the first nine points of the quarter. Anderson hit a layup and the free throw to stop the Cardinal momentum.
With just over three minutes left in the game, Anderson hit a layup that put IU back up 10 and kept the Cardinals out of reach.
The Hoosiers were not lacking for motivation against an in-state foe after just missing the NCAA Tournament, and now a new goal has emerged for IU.
“Our main goal is to win the WNIT,” Buss said. “We’re really just focusing on one game at a time. Ball State was our first step. It’s great momentum going into our next game.”
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