The IU women's basketball flew over 1,800 miles from Bloomington to Puerto Rico to compete in the Puerto Rico Classic.
IU suffered its first loss of the season Thursday, but was still able to go 2-1 in the tournament. Here is how the three games played out.
Dec. 19 — IU vs Loyola Marymount.
Guards led the way for IU Wednesday as it opened the tournament with a 67-43 win over Loyola Marymount University.
Freshman guard Grace Berger contributed to the win with a career-high 15 points along with two assists and three rebounds.
Junior guard Ali Patberg had 10 points, three rebounds and four assists despite four turnovers. Sophomore guard Bendu Yeaney had 12 points of her own while grabbing six rebounds and three steals.
“Grace Berger was terrific, very offensive-minded,” IU Coach Teri Moren said in an IU Athletics press release. “AP did a great job of running our team, but still too many turnovers.”
The win came in IU’s first game since the team defeated Missouri State Dec. 9. As can be expected, the team came out slow and only scored 12 points in the first quarter along with six turnovers. However, the teams were tied after 10 minutes of play.
“I felt like we got off to a sluggish start, which sort of we anticipated,” Moren said. “We needed to knock some of the rust off early.”
IU was able to bounce back strong in the second quarter, going on a 12-2 scoring run with eight of the points coming from Yeaney.
The Lions were able to cut the lead to eight by halftime, but numerous runs in the second half for the Hoosiers helped stretch the lead.
“We had some runs there that were really important,” Moren said. “For a first game when we’ve had the layoff we’ve had, we were pretty pleased.”
The 43 points allowed marked IU’s second-best defensive performance of the year for the team. The Lions shot less than 36 percent from the field and had 24 turnovers.
“We tried to take away what they do best, and that’s high-low,” Moren said. “Our post players really battled. We tried to take away everything they wanted to do.”
Dec. 20 — IU vs Grambling State.
Every streak has to end.
For the Hoosiers, their 10 game win streak ended Thursday afternoon as they fell to Grambling State, 65-62.
After defeating Loyola Marymount by 24 Wednesday, the Hoosiers had less than 24 hours of rest before taking on the Tigers. That was evident as IU looked sluggish to start and were outscored in the second quarter 19-9 to go down by 10 at halftime.
The halftime rest didn’t help as Grambling State quickly jumped to a 40-23 lead. Junior guard Ali Patberg hit a three to calm things down a bit, and IU began to chip away.
The Hoosiers cut it to six points in the third quarter but couldn’t put together enough defensive stops to get any closer and the Tigers took a 52-44 lead into the fourth.
Ten minutes remained for IU to keep its undefeated start to the season alive, and again the team got off to a slow start. IU went down 14 points to start the fourth and sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn tweaked her ankle and did not return.
But the Hoosiers went on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 60-57 and make things interesting down the stretch.
Without Penn on the floor, Patberg, Yeaney and Berger hit a combined seven-straight free throws to inch the Hoosiers closer. Finally, with 1:30 left, Yeaney’s jumper regained IU the lead at 62-61.
It was short-lived as Grambling State drilled a three-pointer to take back the lead that it never relinquished from then on.
Patberg, who finished with a game-high 21 points, got a few good looks from the three-point line near the end to tie the game, but couldn’t find the bottom of the net. Time expired and the Hoosiers lost their first game of the year to the now 2-8 Tigers. Sixty-five points was also Grambling State’s highest point total of the year.
Dec. 21 — IU vs. South Dakota
IU avoided its first losing streak in over a year, taking down the University of South Dakota Coyotes on Friday afternoon 68-60.
The Coyotes entered Friday's contest at 11-1 and received 22 votes in this week's Associated Press Poll.
"People are watching to see how we would respond," Moren said in an IU Athletics press release. "People wondered if we had the toughness, the grittiness, we needed in order to come back and play a team like South Dakota."
South Dakota dominated the first half, limiting IU to seven of 23 shooting from the field. The Coyotes led 34-26 at halftime.
Senior forward Kym Royster and a decisive third quarter helped flip the script in the second half. Royster finished with 11 points on the afternoon, while the Hoosiers outscored South Dakota 23-11 in the third quarter.
"Kym Royster is the player of the game as far as her toughness," Moren said. "But they all played well. It took a team effort. We told them it was going to be like playing in a park. It was going to be toe-to-toe, you're going to be one-on-one."
As they did against Loyola Marymount, the IU guards led the way down the stretch. Patberg finished with a team-high 25 points, while shooting three for seven from three point range and 10 for 12 from the free-throw line.
She also delivered the dagger from behind the arch, hitting a three with 2:30 remaining to stretch the IU lead to nine.
IU finishes non-conference play with an 11-1 record and will open up Big Ten play Dec. 28 at Illinois.
"As far as the start, it's been excellent," Moren said. "We know that we can grow. We know we can always get better, but there's always room for improvement."
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