With the 2018 WNIT Championship banner hanging in the south end of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, IU women’s basketball tipped off its season against a familiar, but differently built, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee team.
The Panthers lost to the Hoosiers in the second round of the WNIT last season but lost its top-three scorers from last season while bringing in five freshmen.
The new lineup created more problems for the Hoosiers this time around as the game came down to the wire with IU winning 68-66.
“They came back with a little bit of a chip on their should,” junior forward Brenna Wise said. “A win is a win at the end of the day.”
With less than five minutes remaining in the game, IU was able to pull out to a nine-point lead.
However, Milwaukee fought back to tie the game at 63 and eventually take a one-point lead with 1:36 remaining in the game.
Following the Milwaukee basket, IU Coach Teri Moren called a time out and drew up a play that resulted in Wise hitting a jump shot just outside the paint to give IU a lead it would not let go.
“There were a couple of options out of that,” Wise said. “We’re not just looking for one thing, because it depends on the defense.”
IU focused on preparing for a zone defense throughout practice, but Milwaukee did not show it until the latter stages of the game. Junior guard Ali Patberg said the switch did catch the team off guard at first but the preparation helped the team adjust.
“It was really smart of Milwaukee to play a zone that late into the game,” Patberg said. “For a second it kind of got our offense a little stagnant because we were pushing the tempo and really running with it.”
With Patberg leading the way, it was clear that IU was trying to continue the fast-paced offense that it had last season but also looked to be able to set up a play when necessary.
Moren said a large part of making the right decision in those circumstances comes from the relationship between her and Patberg.
“There’s two people that can’t have a bad night: the point guard and the coach,” Moren said. “She played through that, and I’m proud of her but not surprised by it. That’s just Ali Patberg being a competitor.”
Patberg ended the game with 16 points, just behind Wise who led the team with 17.
It was the first time seeing regular season game action in more than a year as both sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
The duo led the way for IU, as no other players registered double-digit points. In each of the first three quarters, IU struggled to get out to a quick start.
In the first five minutes of those quarters, IU combined for 17 points while scoring 32 points in the final five minutes of the quarters.
“We’re better when we are running,” Moren said. “In order for that to happen, we’ve got to come up with big stops. We didn’t do that as much as we would have liked to tonight.”
A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin. The IDS regrets this error.
A previous version of a photo caption incorrectly spelled Ali Patberg's name. The IDS regrets this error.