Junior guard Ali Patberg looked up and found freshman guard Grace Berger wide open in transition for an easy layup that stretched IU women’s basketball’s lead to 20 points in the fourth quarter.
The basket was just two of Berger’s nine points and IU’s 91 points in an 18-point win over Northern Illinois University on Sunday.
Despite what the final score shows, IU struggled for most of the first half and faced a 42-41 deficit going into halftime.
NIU shot 7-14 from three in the first 20 minutes, but Moren credited her team’s defensive struggles toward the intangibles.
“We just didn’t have the sense of urgency in the first half that we needed,” Moren said. “We didn’t have any intent on getting outside and protecting the three-point line.”
IU was able to clamp down defensively in the second half by limiting NIU to 3-7 shooting from long range.
NIU senior forward Courtney Woods entered the game averaging 20 points per game, including a 38-point performance against Yale University on Nov. 8.
But IU sophomore guard Bendy Yeaney limited her to 10 points.
“We’re very confident with whoever Bendu is matched up with,” Moren said. “Benny is our go-to for sure.”
The strong defensive performance for Yeaney comes less than a week since she limited University of Florida’s top scorer to five points.
“I definitely enjoy it because that means they have trust in me to stop their best player,” Yeaney said. “I like the challenge. I’m just going to do my best and see how much they end up with at the end of the game.”
Yeaney also contributed offensively by scoring 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
“Bendu does such a great job of allowing the game to come to her,” Moren said.
She was one of five Hoosiers to score in double figures en route to IU’s best offensive performance of the season.
“It says a lot about our team,” junior guard Ali Patberg said. “What I love about our team is that I think we can score at any position at any time.”
Throughout the season, Moren has stressed the importance of breaking a zone defense, and the Hoosiers had no trouble scoring against the Huskies.
“We’re handling ourselves better in those situations,” Moren said. “We know as we go further down the road here and into Big Ten play, that we’re going to have to be really good in both our man stuff and our zone stuff.”
Freshman Aleksa Gulbe put in 12 points to set a new career high, but it was her two blocks on defense that set the tone for IU inside.
“We’re told to defend the person in front of us — take pride in defending our person — but we also know that we have a line of help behind us,” Patberg said. “Our defense as a unit, we’re just strong.”
At 5-0 on the season, IU will be back in action Wednesday at Wake Forest for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The game in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will be the first of a two-game road trip for the team.
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