Wake Forest’s Gina Conti drilled a three-pointer to cut IU’s lead to just 11 as the Hoosiers struggled to score more than two baskets in the fourth quarter’s first four minutes.
Sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn sat and watched that three from the scorer’s table, kneeling on the ground adjusting her white Adidas sneakers as she was set to check back into the game.
Shortly afterward, Penn received a dribble hand-off and when a screen was set for her, she faked going around it, pulled the ball back and drained a three from straight-away to give IU a comfortable 14-point lead with 4:31 remaining.
That’s just how the night was going for Penn.
She tied her career-high with 25 points to help lead IU to an 87-73 victory over Wake Forest, improving the team to 6-0 on the season. This is the best start to a season under fifth-year Coach Teri Moren.
Whether it was driving to the hoop, coming off ball screens for a catch-and-shoot, or dribbling into a mid-range jumper, Penn seemed to make everything. She shot an effective 11-19 from the field and went 3-6 from the three-point line. In the first quarter, where IU exploded out to score 33 points, Penn went 5-6 with 12 points.
As efficient as she was, Penn wasn’t even the Hoosiers’ leading scorer.
Junior guard Ali Patberg continued her hot start to the season by posting a career-high 30 points on 8-11 shooting and a flawless 3-3 from three and 11-11 from the free-throw line.
Patberg and Penn combined for 63 percent of the team’s points.
"Two terrific performances from both of those guys," Moren said. "We needed every basket."
As a team, IU shot 52 percent from the field and held Wake Forest to 45 percent. Beyond the lights out shooting from Penn and Patberg, the Hoosier defense forced 24 Demon Deacon turnovers, while just committing 13 of their own.
Moren said she was pleased with her team's turnover amount.
Despite the quick start in the first quarter, Wake Forest was also shooting at a high rate and put up 28 points to IU’s 33. After taking a seven-point lead into halftime, it was during the second half that IU pulled away.
The tightening of defense in the third and fourth quarters resembled much of IU’s last game against Northern Illinois, where the Hoosiers outscored the Huskies by 19 points to secure the 91-73 win.
It was mostly the third quarter against Wake Forest that made the difference as IU doubled its halftime lead to 14 points and sustained it throughout the fourth.
This not only tallies a win for IU, but also gives the Big Ten a victory because this game was part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The conferences are currently tied 2-2 with IU and Michigan State being the lone winners. The challenge continues tomorrow with nine games slated to determine bragging rights of the two power-five conferences.
As for IU, it will return to action at 4 p.m. Sunday against UCLA in Los Angeles.
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