It was another poor start that plagued the IU women’s basketball team in its game at Northern Kentucky on Saturday.
Despite eventually pulling out a 67-56 victory against the Norse, the Hoosiers did so in an ugly fashion.
As has been the case multiple times this season, IU looked discombobulated in the first quarter.
Turnovers proved to be detrimental as the Hoosiers couldn’t get anything going offensively early on. In the first period, the Hoosiers turned the ball over eight times and trailed Northern Kentucky 9-8 at its conclusion.
The second quarter wasn’t much better as Northern Kentucky’s scrappy defense refused to let up and IU coughed up the ball five more times.
The Hoosiers went into the locker room at halftime trailing the Norse, 25-24. It was a sloppy first half in which IU committed 13 turnovers and shot 1-6 from 3-point range.
“I think there is a lot of uncertainty from some of our players,” IU assistant coach Glenn Box said in a postgame interview with WHCC 105.1. “We just have some kids right now who aren’t trusting their abilities.”
Northern Kentucky, who came into the contest with a 1-6 record, carried out its game plan of forcing IU into costly mistakes to start the game.
The Norse slowed down the pace of the game to prevent the Hoosiers from scoring in transition and clogged up the paint with a 2-3 zone to prevent IU’s forwards, senior Amanda Cahill and junior Kym Royster, from being productive inside.
In the second half, IU slowly started to resolve its first half issues. IU outscored Northern Kentucky by six in the third quarter and stretched its lead to as many as 16 points with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The Hoosiers managed to cut their turnovers down to just four in the second half and shot better from the field, shooting 45.8 percent in the half.
Despite struggling with her outside shot, senior guard Tyra Buss was still able to generate some offense in the second half. Of her 25 total points of the night, nine came off of free throws, going 9-10 in the second half and 12-14 for the game.
Cahill and Royster both finished in double figures for IU with 12 points each.
One of the deciding factors for IU proved to be its ability to take advantage of Northern Kentucky’s mistakes. Even though the Hoosiers’ turnover mark of 17 was one greater than that of Northern Kentucky, they scored 22 points off of turnovers to Northern Kentucky’s nine.
However, the Norse did have the advantage off the bench. They outscored IU’s second unit 17-4 as IU Coach Teri Moren still looks to put together a consistent rotation for her young team.
Just a year after IU demolished Northern Kentucky at home 100-49, Saturday’s game was a drastic contrast to that performance.
Despite the victory, Box said the Hoosier coaching staff was not happy with the way IU responded to the amount of energy the Norse brought into the contest.
“In regards to getting the victory, it was big, but we did not play well,” Box said. “I don’t feel like our kids stepped up to the challenge.”
Box said the Hoosiers will now look to keep improving as they have over a week of practice before their next game. They’ll travel to West Palm Beach, Florida, to take on Missouri and Virginia in the West Palm Invitational beginning on Dec. 17.
“Truth be told, I think our kids already know the answers. They already know what we’re going to tell them over the break,” Box said. “At some point, they have to step up.”
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