As sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn rose for a three during Sunday's women's basketball game against No. 15 Michigan State, IU Coach Teri Moren stood just feet behind her watching the ball go toward the basket.
The team has shown confidence in Penn taking shots late in the game, and as Moren watched this shot develop in front of her on a broken play, she said her only concern was whether it would be too long.
“It was right on target when it left her hands,” Moren said.
It did not go long, rather it was nothing but net. The shot came with 47 seconds left and gave the Hoosiers a 65-62 lead against the Spartans.
Free throws would ice the game for IU, but it was Penn’s shot that gave the Hoosiers what they needed en route to a 68-64 win.
“These are games that we’ve worked for,” junior guard Ali Patberg said. “We were ready for the challenge.”
Penn scored seven of her 17 points in the fourth quarter, but numerous Hoosiers contributed in the first three periods to keep the game close.
Three IU players scored in double figures alongside Penn. Junior Brenna Wise and Patberg had 14 and 12 points while freshman Grace Berger dropped in 10.
But it was defensive stops down the stretch after Penn’s three-pointer that Moren said were able to seal the deal for the team.
“We felt pretty confident in what we were going to see, but you always have to give credit to your kids,” Moren said. “They’re the ones that executed it perfectly.”
Patberg had another key play in the fourth quarter as a rebound hit off a Michigan State player and headed out of bounds. Knowing the ball was off of a Spartan, Patberg boxed out her opponent to let the ball simply go out with IU possession as a result.
But while boxing her opponent out, Patberg fell into the front row where a fan fell out of his seat. However, Patberg did not know she knocked the fan out of his seat until after the game.
“I feel bad,” Patberg said. “If the fan is listening, I’m sorry.”
It was scrappy plays like those that gave IU a chance to win.
The win marks the first win against a top-15 opponent since the 2009-10 season and the first against a ranked opponent since the 2016-17 season.
“This is another experience for us that’s going to help us down the road as we continue to grind it out in the Big Ten,” Moren said.
IU received 11 Top-25 votes in the AP poll last week, and with two Big Ten wins, the team awaits its fate to see if it will be ranked in the next poll.
“Outside opinions have never mattered to this group,” Moren said. “There are things in life that you are not going to be able to control, and in sports it’s a lot like that as well.”
With 6,380 people in attendance, IU set the ninth-highest number for attendance at a women’s game at Assembly Hall.
“We feed off of that,” Wise said. “We talk about energy and good juice all the time with our team, and Assembly Hall never fails to bring it.”