If there is one thing IU women’s basketball Coach Teri Moren has made clear this season it’s that she does not like slow starts from her team.
That was evident in the Hoosiers’ upset loss to Chattanooga earlier in the season Nov. 20. Moren said IU's unpreparedness early in the game was one of the main factors in that 64-61 loss.
While that start was rough, it paled in comparison to the first quarter IU experienced in a 65-53 loss to Auburn on Sunday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers’ performance to start the contest could be categorized as nothing less than disastrous.
IU committed 12 turnovers in the first quarter alone, along with going just 1-7 from the field and 0-5 from three-point range. By the time the nightmare was over, the Hoosiers trailed 18-4 going into the second quarter.
It proved to be a hole the Hoosiers could not dig themselves out of, despite outscoring the Tigers in both the second and third quarters.
“I was just very disappointed in how we handled ourselves this afternoon,” Moren said. “It wasn’t just one kid, I thought it was all of us collectively.”
In the third quarter, IU outscored Auburn, 18-11, and got back within one point behind stellar performances from freshman guard Jaelynn Penn and senior forward Amanda Cahill.
Penn nailed two big three-pointers and had a massive block, while Cahill was able to find her open teammates out of the post.
Cahill said she was able to take advantage of Auburn’s aggressive zone defense after receiving entry passes down low.
“They were just collapsing a lot in the middle of the zone,” Cahill said. “A couple times people were able to get open on the outside.”
The Tigers’ defense proved to be what ultimately killed IU’s hopes of a comeback in the fourth quarter as the Hoosiers reverted back to their sloppiness from the first quarter. The Hoosiers recorded eight more turnovers in the final period.
IU was unable to handle the length of Auburn’s 1-2-2 full-court trap, which led to IU's 23 turnovers in the game. Auburn was long enough to reach into passing lanes and trap IU in the corners.
The Tigers scored 25 points off IU’s bad decisions.
However, Moren said it wasn’t for a lack of preparation after the team had worked on simulating Auburn's defense in practice in the days leading up to Sunday.
“When you face a team that sits in a zone and tries to clog up the paint, you still have to make pass fakes,” Moren said. “We got into a situation where you could read our eyes and see exactly where we were throwing it.”
Even when the Hoosiers tried to switch up their press-breaking offense, they struggled to get into a rhythm. They began having a guard inbound the ball and putting Cahill, who Moren said was the team's best decision maker, in the middle to direct the offense moving the ball up the court. It limited the turnovers in the second and third quarters, but it still wasn’t enough.
“It’s still one-on-one basketball,” Moren said. “You can’t telegraph passes, you have to pass fake, and you can’t put each other in bad situations.”
IU’s guards struggled mightily all game as senior Tyra Buss ended up with seven turnovers while freshman Bendu Yeaney had six of her own. It was an all-around struggle for Buss as she also went just 4-13 from the field and 1-8 from three on her way to scoring 10 points.
Penn and Cahill carried the Hoosiers for most of the game.
Penn led the team in scoring with 16 points along with 10 rebounds, while Cahill finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Despite it being a third straight loss for the Hoosiers, Moren said she sees Sunday as being another lesson learned for her young team.
“It’s still Dec. 3, so we have a lot of basketball ahead of us,” Moren said. “We have a lot of lessons we continue to keep learning.”
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