IU Coach Teri Moren said her Hoosiers were slow out of the gate, unlike in Thursday’s game against Ball State, and that meant they trailed Saint Louis after the first quarter.
A 28 percent field goal mark from the field had IU down just three points, but Saint Louis was shooting better than 50 percent and threatening to extend the lead.
After that slow opening frame, the Hoosiers were clicking. The offense started hitting shots, and the defense picked up its intensity. That was a part of 21 consecutive points from the Hoosiers in the second quarter. The 21 points were paired with eight-plus minutes of scoreless basketball from the Saint Louis Billikens.
IU used its big second quarter to move on to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament Round of 16 with a 71-53 win against Saint Louis on Sunday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
“Whenever the defense is really well, that carries onto the offensive end,” IU junior guard Tyra Buss said. “Coach really takes pride in the defensive end. We pressured up, had a lot of energy.”
Slowly but surely, the Hoosiers grew their lead. They trailed 18-15 after one quarter , but once the second 10 minutes started, the Hoosiers got things going.
“It was getting a feel,” Moren said on the slow first quarter. “There’s always stuff inside the game that again, the game has to start in order to get that, to understand that. It was just adjusting.”
It started with two straight 3-pointers by senior guards Alexis Gassion and Karlee McBride. From there, four other Hoosiers and six total, contributed to the 21-0 run. The offense finally got on track, but the defense is what really propelled the run, according to Buss.
“I know the second quarter, we really picked up our communicating because we were switching one through four,” Buss said. “Picking up our energy of the defensive end led to what we were doing on the offensive end.”
In the first quarter, the Billikens really pushed the pace. Atlantic 10 player of the year and Saint Louis junior guard Jackie Kemph caused the IU defense all sorts of trouble in the transition game. The Billikens outscored the Hoosiers 6-0 in transition points in the first quarter and something had to change.
Moren said her team just had to talk about the transition game in order to fix that. She used the first media timeout in the first quarter to do so. After that, the Hoosiers didn’t allow the Billikens to get out in transition much at all.
Kemph had a game-high seven points heading into the second quarter and finished with 11 points overall. Moren credited her veteran team for being able to make that adjustment in the transition game.
“They know what they have to do,” Moren said. “Sometimes we don’t execute at a high rate, or as high as we want to, but at the end of the day, they’re pretty smart in terms of adjustments and what has to happen in order to have the success that we want.”
Saint Louis was no slouch — the Billikens have won 25 games — but the Hoosiers stifled their attack. The four second-quarter points allowed by IU was the difference.
“We work on our transition defense almost every day in practice,” Buss said. “We got out to a slow start there and they got out in front of us, that’s not supposed to happen.”
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