During their recent four-game losing streak, which ended in overtime Monday at Wisconsin, the Hoosiers lost by an average of 5.7 points.
IU (16-8, 9-6) will try to continue its winning ways as they take on Northwestern (6-19, 2-12) tonight in Evanston, Ill.
With the Hoosiers shooting 30.1 percent during the four losses, senior Amber Jackson said she believes the shortcomings had a lot more to do with IU than its opponents.
“I feel where we are now is because of how we have been playing and what we have done to ourselves, versus the other team just being better then us and flat-out beating us,” Jackson said during a recent practice. “Our backs are against the wall, but we put ourselves there, and we can definitely get ourselves out.”
Despite winning for the first time in this month Monday night, the Hoosiers still remain a half-game out of fifth place in the Big Ten. If they made the No. 5 spot, it would give them a buy in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, March 5 through 8 in Indianapolis.
Junior point guard Jamie Braun, who scored 20 points in front of more than 30 relatives and friends Monday night, said the team’s energy has increased after their overtime victory against the Badgers.
“I think we are being hopeful right now,” Braun said. “We are hoping that things work out in a certain way – that maybe other teams will get some losses in their column. We know we have to have a good attitude to finish strong.”
To capture more victories to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume, the Hoosiers will have to do more than bring positive attitudes. They will have to put the ball in the basket.
One key statistic for the team in their conference schedule has been field goal percentage. When the Hoosiers shoot over 37 percent, the team holds an 8-1 record; when they dip below the 37 percent mark, they are just 1-5.
In the first game against Northwestern, which also kicked off the Big Ten schedule for the Hoosiers, IU shot 46.9 percent to claim an 81-57 victory.
After tonight. Northwestern will be one of six teams the Hoosiers will have faced twice this season. On two of those occasions, teams they have beat the first time have come back to beat them the second.
Senior Whitney Thomas said some of the differences between the two games are due to teams adjusting and playing the Hoosiers differently.
Legette-Jack agreed but also said her team can make adjustments as well.
“Yeah, they play us different,” Legette-Jack said. “We play a little different too, but any given day, that is what makes the Big Ten so fantastic – that anybody can be great and you got to finish the game, 40 minutes.”
After a 7-1 start in the Big Ten, the best in the history of the program, the Hoosiers have put themselves in a difficult spot by losing four of their last six games, including two to Illinois – a team with only four total conference victories.
Legette-Jack said tonight’s game is a must-win.
“Our back is against the wall right now,” Legette-Jack said. “We put ourselves in a duress situation. Every game is a must-win situation right now. We have to go after Northwestern, and we have to compete to win.”
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