For the first time since the first four games of the season, the IU women’s basketball team has rallied off three straight wins to put itself back in the middle of the Big Ten standings.
The Hoosiers began conference play with three straight losses, two of which were by double digits.
The team got its first win against Purdue on Jan. 6, but dropped three more after that. That deficit in the second three-game skid were a lot closer.
It wasn’t until two weeks ago that the Hoosiers finally got a break in a close game and defeated Michigan State on the road, 69-65.
That win in East Lansing was the end of five road games in a seven-game span for IU. Now, the Hoosiers are back home and firing on all cylinders.
On Jan. 24 against Wisconsin, IU started out with a 9-4 lead and didn’t look back. The Hoosiers played the whole game up 10 to 12 points and won, 69-55.
Three days later, on Jan. 27, a previously ranked Rutgers team came into Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall with the best defense in the Big Ten, only allowing 55 points per game.
Things were tied at 16 at the end of the first quarter, but IU gained some breathing room in the second quarter and took a seven point lead into halftime.
The Scarlet Knights’ defense showed up in the third quarter, however, as they forced IU into untimely turnovers and only allowed 10 points scored, dropping 20 of their own to take a three-point lead into the fourth.
With their win streak on the line, the Hoosiers outscored the Scarlet Knights 19-8 in the fourth to take a hard-fought victory, 64-58.
Now, with an opportunity to win their fourth straight, which will tie their season-high, the Hoosiers get set to take on Northwestern on Sunday at home.
The Wildcats are 2-7 in the Big Ten and 9-14 overall. Despite having a lowly record, the purple and black present a height disadvantage for the Hoosiers, something IU has had to deal with all year.
Two Wildcat players stand at six-foot-four and three at six-foot-two.
Junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah averages 10.8 points per game and will be matched up against IU senior forward Amanda Cahill who is averaging 14.4 points per game.
Hoosier junior Kym Royster — who is averaging 10.8 points per game and is coming off a 14-point game against Rutgers — will be asked to contain sophomore center Abi Scheid, who puts up 13 a game.
Before the Rutgers game, Royster went through a stretch where she was struggling to put the ball in the basket, but after studying her game on film, said she felt those days are behind her.
“I’ve been watching clips of when I’ve played well this year, and it motivated me to get out of that slump,” Royster said. “My goal is to just be aggressive.”
The majority of points from both of these teams come from the point guard position. Wildcat freshman Lindsey Pulliam leads her team in scoring with 14.2 points per game.
Pulliam will have to guard the only woman to rack up 2,000 career points at IU, senior Tyra Buss, who scores 20 a game. Buss is also the new all-time leader in steals at IU with 261. IU Coach Teri Moren said it shows she can not only get things done on the offensive end, but the defensive end as well.
No matter the one-on-one match-ups, the team knows it needs production from everyone on the court to gain its fourth straight win and put themselves one win away from a .500 record in the conference.
Sunday’s game will also be National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Tip-off is at noon.
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