When coach Kathi Bennett took over the women's basketball program last spring, athletics director Clarence Doninger expected a turnaround.\nJust not so fast.\nIn only 14 games in her first season, Bennett has transformed a bottom-dweller in the Big Ten to one of the conference's best. While campus was empty last month, IU has continued to enact tough defense on its opponents, sprinting to a 12-2 start.\nHere's how the Hoosiers are sitting in their best position in years.
Dec. 19\nIU 82, Long Beach State 66\nJunior center Jill Chapman poured in 20 points, including six in a crucial 12-2 run in the opening minutes of the second half to push the Hoosiers by the 49ers.\nAfter a three by Long Beach State's Reta Sula gave the 49ers a two-point lead to open the second half, Chapman propelled the Hoosier offense and defense in winning the first round game of the Beach Classic in Long Beach, Calif.\nThe 49ers fought back to keep things close as Sula continued hot shooting, but a 26-11 run by IU during the last nine minutes finished the 49ers.\nChapman's 20 points led a balanced offensive attack for the Hoosiers as five players scored in double-digits. Freshman guard Anna Waugh scored 17 points, junior guard Heather Cassady tallied 14, and senior guard Tara Jones and senior forward Rachael Honegger each scored 10 points. \nChapman had a team-high seven rebounds.
Dec. 20\nMississippi 69, IU 67\nOle Miss guard Becky Myatt's clutch shooting in the final minute handed the Hoosiers their second loss in the championship game of the Beach Classic.\nFreshman forward Charliss Ridley had a chance to send the game into overtime but missed a shot from the left corner as time expired. In IU's other loss to nationally ranked Louisiana Tech, Honegger missed a shot at the buzzer to win the game. The Hoosiers' two losses were by a combined three points and to teams that were a combined 15-1 when they met.\nMyatt, who was named tournament MVP, converted on two threes in the final 25 seconds to seal the Rebel win. Myatt made a three with 25 seconds left to give Ole Miss a 66-65 lead. After two free throws by Waugh, Myatt made a second three with 8.5 seconds left.\nMyatt was three-for-three from behind the arc and led all scorers with 20 points.\nThe Hoosiers led most of the way as Ole Miss didn't lead until six minutes remained in the game.\nFor IU, Waugh was solid off the bench scoring 16 points. Senior guard Rainey Alting added 12.
Dec. 28\nIU 65, Ohio State 56\nChapman scored 13 points and added 10 rebounds as the Hoosiers went on the road to win their Big Ten opener against Ohio State. The loss for the Buckeyes was their first this season.\nThe Hoosiers dominated most of the game in front of more than 7,000 Buckeye fans, leading by as many as 17 points. But the Buckeyes made a late charge in the second half to make the lead seven points with just more than two minutes left.\nIU held off Ohio State coach Beth Burns' team with clutch free throw shooting, nailing six consecutive shots to decide the game. \nFour Hoosiers scored in double figures, led by Chapman and Alting, who scored 13 points each. Cassady added 12 points while Waugh, in her first start as a Hoosier, finished with 10 points and five assists.
Dec. 31\nIU 71, Michigan State 54\nIn a battle between first-year coaches, Bennett's Hoosiers stormed past Michigan State coach Joanne McCallie's team in IU's first home game in nearly a month.\nAfter trailing 3-2 in the opening minutes of the first half, IU pulled away from the Spartans, extending to a 35-18 first half cushion.\nFour Hoosiers were in double figures with Chapman once again leading the way. The center finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, her fourth double-double of the season. For her work in the two Big Ten games, Chapman was later named Big Ten Player of the Week. It was the second time this season she has received the league's honor. Chapman averages more than 14 points and eight rebounds this season for IU.\nRidley came off the bench to score 12, while Alting had 11 points and Anna Waugh added 10. Candice Jackson led MSU with 14 points.\nIn the dominant performance, the Hoosiers lost the battle on the glass 44-30, but 23 Spartan turnovers made up for the Hoosiers' rebounding woes. Rebounding has been an ongoing problem Bennett has confronted this season, she said.
Jan. 4\nIU 79, Minnesota 76\nIn perhaps IU's ugliest game, the Hoosiers held off a scare by the Golden Gophers in its third and closest Big Ten win.\nThe Hoosiers (12-2, 3-0) struggled defensively, giving up the most points of the season to a much-improved Gopher squad (7-6, 0-2).\nIU trailed by two points to start the second half, but again relied on Chapman, who notched her fifth double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. All 17 of Chapmans points came in the second half. Cassady and Alting also scored in double digits with 14 and 12 points, respectively.\nLindsay Whalen led Minnesota with 21 points.