Amanda Cahill was everywhere during the IU women’s basketball game against Rutgers on Saturday.
The senior forward didn’t just lead the way on the court in the Hoosiers’ 64-58 victory over the Scarlet Knights. She was all over Assembly Hall as bobbleheads in her likeness circulated the stands in recognition of her becoming just the third IU women’s player to record 1,000 career rebounds during IU’s win over Wisconsin on Jan. 24.
Cahill stepped up on her bobblehead night in a big way as she led a balanced Hoosier scoring attack with 14 points while grabbing a team-high seven rebounds and shooting 3-5 from 3-point range.
She managed to get a number of open opportunities from behind the arc by being in the right positions after setting ball screens time after time.
That ability of knowing when to fade or slip off of screens is something Cahill said has just become second nature to her.
“My dad was a coach, so I’ve been around basketball a lot and have seen a lot of different types of reads," Cahill said. "I’m always trying to read different types of screens or slips. I think it’s just something that comes from being around basketball my whole life.”
Cahill also shot 5-6 from the free throw line, which contributed to the Hoosiers going 25-29 as a team from the line on the day. It proved to be vital in the Hoosiers securing their third straight victory as they were able to hit some key free throws down the stretch.
Those free throws eventually helped IU pull away from a back-and-forth battle that started in the first quarter.
After tying the first quarter at 16 apiece, the Hoosiers took advantage of Rutgers’ leading scorer, senior guard Tyler Scaife, going to the bench with some early foul trouble in the second quarter.
Cahill and freshman guard Jaelynn Penn combined for 20 points in the first half, and IU took a 36-29 lead into halftime after outscoring the Knights by seven in the second.
Rutgers came out in the second half and immediately amped up the defensive pressure, forcing IU into some untimely turnovers.
Couple that with Scaife heating up from the field despite Penn hounding her in the Hoosiers’ box-and-one defensive scheme, and the Knights were able to outscore IU 20-10 in the third quarter.
Scaife, who is Rutgers’ only player averaging in double-figures this season, proved to be vital to Rutgers’ third quarter success offensively, but IU Coach Teri Moren said they had prepared all week to try and mix up their defensive schemes to throw Scaife and the Knights’ offense off-balance.
After unleashing the box-and-one in the third, Moren had her team switched back to man-to-man and had freshman guard Bendu Yeaney take over defensive duties on Scaife.
“It was just something we thought we needed to do while watching film during our prep in order keep Rutgers out of synch,” Moren said. “The teams that have been successful against them have mixed up their defenses during the game.”
After going on a 12-0 run near the end of the third, Rutgers held as much as a seven-point lead. However, junior Kym Royster converted on back-to-back 3-point plays for IU to bring them within 49-46 heading into the final frame.
When IU got back within one to open the fourth, both teams took over defensively. Both went scoreless for nearly five minutes after the eight-minute mark, but IU was able to finally reclaim the lead — Cahill reemerged after going scoreless in the third to nail a huge three with three and half minutes remaining.
After a Rutgers score, senior guard Tyra Buss followed up with a three of her own. Cahill then stepped up on the defensive end swatting away junior guard Khadaizha Sanders’ layup attempt.
Penn would then go on the other end of the floor to make two free throws. Just like that, the Hoosiers had turned the tables and held a five-point lead with less than a minute to go.
From there, IU managed to close it out down the stretch by hitting some clutch free throws.
Cahill shared the scoring load with Penn and Royster who both scored 14 points of their own while Buss contributed 12 points and three steals, which made her the IU women’s basketball all-time leader in that category with 261 career steals.
It proved to be a performance in which IU’s entire team stepped up to play well, something Moren has said she has been looking for from her team for some time.
“Rutgers is a really good basketball team," Moren said. "They were bigger and probably more athletic than we are. I think it says a lot about our kids and their determination and will. It’s an overall effort with our group. It’s always collective.”
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