It was just another day at the office for IU’s seniors Amanda Cahill and Tyra Buss.
Not only did the two produce 61 percent of the Hoosiers' points Sunday, but they constantly hit big shot after big shot to hold off the Northwestern Wildcats 78-73.
In the first quarter, IU jumped out to a 17-4 lead, evidently showing the effects of having an eight-day rest from its prior game.
The team looked energized as they took a 20-8 lead into the second quarter.
Northwestern started the second quarter with six quick points to pull itself back into the game. That run was put to a halt when Buss knocked in a three, and Cahill got a rebound on the next possession and put it back up to extend the lead to 11.
It was then the Wildcat’s turn to make a run. Led by freshman guard Lindsey Pulliam and sophomore guard Byrdy Galernik, Northwestern was able to rally off seven consecutive points to make it 25-21.
Who else to answer that run than Buss as she scored six straight points herself, all from attacking the paint with her quick first step.
IU took a 35-29 lead into halftime.
The Hoosiers started the third quarter similar to the first and regained another double-digit lead at 46-35.
IU played the next ten minutes up 8 to 12 points with baskets from Cahill and Buss anytime the Wildcats threatened to get close.
That trend ended with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter when the Hoosiers didn’t hit one field goal for the remainder of the fourth.
Down the stretch Pulliam, who finished with a career-high 33 points, scored 12 straight points to reel her team back into the game, overcoming a 16-point deficit to only trail by three with 1:10 left to go.
Buss said they tried to adjust on Pulliam by switching 1-4 ball screens because when they didn’t switch, whoever was guarding her would get caught on the screen and couldn’t recover in time before she rose up to knock one down.
That worked in the last minute as the IU defenders made it difficult for her to get an in-rhythm jump shot. However, only leading by three, the Hoosier offense needed a basket.
With 45 seconds left, freshman guard Jaelynn Penn missed an open 3-pointer in the corner, but Cahill got the rebound and called a timeout. Out of the timeout, Buss tried to find Cahill popping out to the three-point line but sophomore forward Abi Scheid shot the gap and stole the pass.
Scheid took it down the court and jump-stopped just above the free-throw line. As the crowd wanted a travel, Scheid turned around and found Galernik trailing the play for an open 3-pointer that she splashed to tie the game with 12 seconds left.
The ball was in Buss’ hands to try and win the game, but two Wildcat defenders got up in her grill and forced her to dribble it off her leg out of bounds. Northwestern regained possession with three seconds left.
They inbounded it to junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, and she drove it in the paint and shot a floater that went in, but before Northwestern could celebrate, the referees called a travel on her, giving IU possession with 0.5 seconds to go.
Cahill’s shot was blocked at the buzzer and overtime ensued.
This young Hoosier team played in an overtime game once already this season against Virginia on Dec. 18. In that game, IU was outscored 17-7 in the extra period and lost by 10.
This time the Hoosiers tightened up their defense to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Despite only making one field goal in overtime, IU went 8-8 from the free-throw line to secure its fourth-straight win.
Buss finished the game with a season-high 31 points and Cahill had 17. Junior forward Kim Royster was a big presence down low for the Hoosiers as well as she also had 17 points.
Cahill said the overtime victory is a great experience for the younger members of the team.
IU is now 5-6 in the conference and evened up their overall record to 12-12.
“It was a fantastic game,” IU Coach Teri Moren said. “I’m really proud of the way our kids handled themselves in overtime. We came up with some big stops when we had to. Overall, I’m just happy we escaped with a win.”
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