IU Coach Teri Moren said it wasn’t one of IU’s cleanest offensive performances.
The Hoosiers knew the SMU Mustangs wanted to play slow, and that was the case early on.
The Mustangs average about 58 points per game, and IU likes to get out and run and put points up on the scoreboard.
To start off, it was a slow game. As it progressed, the Hoosiers started to increase the tempo and get the pace more in their favor.
Behind a balanced scoring effort, IU advanced to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals with a 64-44 win against SMU on March 23 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
“Sometimes you just have to win ugly, and I thought that was the case tonight,” Moren said. “It didn’t seem like we had any kind of rhythm in the first quarter but had moments where we scored the ball when we needed to.”
From the opening tip, things felt a bit off.
No one won the tip. It just went out of bounds after it was bounced around between IU senior center Jenn Anderson and SMU junior forward Alicia Froling. From there, it wasn’t much better.
SMU had a tough go of it from the field, and so did IU. The Hoosiers closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run. It was a little bit better for IU, but the Hoosiers were still just shooting 38.5 percent and had six turnovers.
“We did get stuck there a little slower with their pace, but then we said, ‘That’s not our game,’” IU senior guard Karlee McBride said. “We got back and started hitting people in transition, hitting shots, and it got us back into our groove.”
Nothing exemplified the transition game more than McBride’s bucket with 1:45 left to play. It was her and junior guard Tyra Buss. They had a Mustang defender backpedaling, about to fall down. Buss and McBride passed the ball back and forth before the senior laid it in.
The crowd was on its feet and about as loud as it had been all night.
“Whoever was open at the end, whoever was closest to the basket was going to definitely shoot it,” McBride said. “Our fans are amazing right now, and I could hear the crowd roaring, and that got me really excited.”
The Hoosiers eventually were able to put away the Mustangs as the game went on. IU led by eight after one, 10 after two, 16 after three and 20 when the final buzzer sounded.
It wasn’t as if there was one player that was far and away the best, either.
McBride led IU with 17 points, and junior forward Amanda Cahill was the only other scorer in double figures with 10.
Buss, Anderson and senior guard Alexis Gassion had eight each. Off the bench, freshman guard Ria Gulley had seven, and sophomore forward Kym Royster had six to keep up her good play in the WNIT.
“I try to remind our guys that they don’t have to do anything special,” Moren said. “All they have to do is play within the confines of what we’re trying to do, our offensive system.”
With the win, IU will be host to a quarterfinal matchup in the WNIT at 2:00 p.m. on March 26 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. That game will be against the Villanova Wildcats, which knocked off the James Madison Dukes in overtime of their round of 16 matchup. Moren said she was quite pleased the Hoosiers get to play at home again.
“I love that we get to sleep in our own beds and don’t have to get on an airplane and go through all that,” Moren said. “It’s a tremendous thing for our players. I know they get excited just to be here at home in front of our home crowd.”
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