The Southern women’s basketball team came out firing at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Tuesday night.
The Jaguars threw up as many open looks as they could against IU and connected with regularity early in the first half.
Southern maintained a lead with nearly five minutes to go in the second quarter due to the barrage of threes and long twos it was able to get off.
IU Coach Teri Moren said she believed the slow start for her team had more to do with Southern’s full-court press and half-court trap that forced IU into some costly turnovers.
“We haven’t seen anything like that yet,” Moren said. “It’s hard to simulate that in practice and then you put some freshmen out there who have to make some decisions. It forces you to take quick shots and we took several of those.”
Although the Jaguars were able to get up 75 shot attempts in the contest, the Hoosiers were still able to tough out a 64-49 victory in a sloppy, physical battle.
“We just can’t have slow starts. Every possession matters and everything you do matters.” Moren said. “I thought this was a great test for us to have to play through some ugliness because that was not a pretty game.”
After tying 17-17 with Southern after the first quarter, it took the Hoosiers until the five-minute mark in the second to finally get things going. Junior forward Kym Royster’s putback off an offensive rebound sparked a 9-3 run that included a made three in transition from senior guard Tyra Buss, a block from senior forward Amanda Cahill and four total points from freshman guard Bendu Yeaney.
By the time Buss connected with Yeaney on a fast-break lob, the Hoosiers had a 32-30 lead with 3:35 left before the half.
Even though IU was starting to assert its dominance, Southern remained alive as they only trailed 36-32 at halftime.
From there, IU picked up the intensity defensively and Southern slowed down going 7-39 from the field in the second half.
However, the second half wasn’t about Southern’s struggles as much as it was about IU showing their mettle, especially Buss in particular.
After colliding with a Southern defender on a hard charge call in the third quarter, Buss limped off the floor at a timeout break. She managed to get herself back out on to the court to score six more points in the quarter.
It helped the Hoosiers take a 53-42 lead going into the fourth.
“I get banged up a lot so I just have to keep pushing through and do whatever the team needs me to do,” Buss said. “In the moment, it doesn’t hurt as bad because I’m out there playing with my teammates and doing whatever the coaches ask me.”
Buss finished the game with 23 points and 5 assists, but the Hoosiers’ biggest contributor might have been Royster. Royster recorded her second career double-double and a career high in rebounds with a 14-point and 15-rebound performance.
“I thought Kym got out of the gates slow, which I wasn’t very happy about,” Moren said. “I thought she responded in a big way and in the second half, I thought she was really good.”
Cahill also had a double-double of her own of 13 points and 10 rebounds while Yeaney finished with 10 points and freshman guard Jaelynn Penn pulled down 9 rebounds.
The Hoosiers crashed the defensive boards hard in the second half, leading them to a 58-35 advantage over Southern on the night.
Turnovers and poor free throw shooting continued to hold IU back from breaking away for most of the game. The Hoosiers committed 23 turnovers to Southern’s 10 and went 16-28 (57.1%) from the line.
They were things that Moren said her young team will need to address moving forward with their next game against Western Kentucky at home on Friday.
“There were those two areas that we fell short in tonight,” Moren said. “As far as the grind-it-out game it was, I thought it was a great experience for our young kids.”
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