The IU women’s basketball team will be back on the road Saturday as they travel to Highland Heights, Kentucky to take on the Northern Kentucky Norse after a treacherous three-game home stretch.
In that span, the Hoosiers played three games in six days and went 1-2 against non-conference opponents.
They opened up the tough home stand on Nov. 30 with a 72-59 loss to No. 4 Louisville. Despite the defeat, IU showed a lot of fight and managed to keep it close with one of the best teams in the country for most of the game.
They followed that promising performance with a 65-53 loss to Auburn on Dec. 3. The Hoosiers couldn’t recover from a disastrous first quarter in which they went 1-7 from the field and committed 12 turnovers.
In their three-game losing streak, which stretched back to a Nov. 25 88-82 loss to Saint Mary’s in Moraga, California, IU’s veterans like senior guard Tyra Buss struggled from the field.
Freshman Jaelynn Penn stepped up to carry the scoring load for IU in those contests, leading them in scoring by averaging 18 points and shooting around 48 percent from three-point range. However, Penn’s hot streak was not enough to get the Hoosiers over the hump.
In their last home game on Tuesday, IU finally bounced back with a 68-63 victory over North Texas. Despite a late scare from the Mean Green, big performances from Buss (26 points) and fellow senior Amanda Cahill (15 points, 12 rebounds) helped the Hoosiers finally close out a game.
They also received productive performances off the bench from sophomore Bre Wickware and freshman Keyanna Warthen who were thrust into action after foul trouble from Penn and freshman Bendu Yeaney. The bench play was a promising step moving forward for an IU team that has struggled with depth problems all year.
For head coach Teri Moren, she said the thing that became the biggest concern for the Hoosiers in their home stretch was their struggles when handling the ball.
In their three home games, IU turned the ball over a total of 60 times and subsequently gave up 58 points.
“We clearly have a lot of issues with taking care of the basketball right now,” Moren said in an interview with IU Athletics. “We’ve identified those and realized that and we know we have to be better. It starts every day in practice with how well we take care of the ball and how well we focus.”
Now Moren and her squad will look to carry the momentum of that win over to their next game as they prepare for Northern Kentucky. Their game on Saturday begins a four-game road swing for the Hoosiers.
The Norse come into the game at 1-6 with their only win of the season coming against Division II Oakland City.
Just two of Northern Kentucky’s players average in double figures for points. Sophomore guard Molly Glick is leading the way with 14.4 points a game and freshman guard Samari Mowbray follows that up with an average of 10.4.
Meanwhile, freshman forward Kailey Coffey leads them in rebounding with 7.6 per game and senior guard Mikayla Terry leads them in assists with 3.9 per contest.
Much like IU, the Norse come into Saturday’s contest with a young roster still trying to find their identity. They start three freshmen and a sophomore while their bench is made up of mostly young players as well.
Despite beating the Norse soundly at home last year with a final score of 100-49, Moren said her team still needs to come into the game looking to correct their recent issues with handling the ball and giving up drives defensively.
“At this point, we’re just diving into these games and trying to get the Indiana Hoosiers better,” Moren said. “It’s going to be more about us than anything.”
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