The first words IU women’s basketball Coach Teri Moren said in her opening statement following Monday night’s 69-61 loss to Rutgers have become too familiar for IU fans.
"Another tough night for the Hoosiers," she said.
The words that followed were no different.
“We’re disappointed, I know our fans our disappointed,” Moren said.
The most recent loss extended IU’s losing streak to four games and ended Rutgers’ three-game skid. And it came in the unlikeliest of ways.
Rutgers sophomore Tekia Mack, who averaged fewer than four points per game heading into the contest, was unstoppable against IU. Behind 24 points on 10-for-12 shooting, the Hoosiers had no answers for the Chicago native.
“She’s a basketball player,” IU sophomore guard Bendu Yeaney said. “She went out there and played basketball. That’s what her team asked her to do, and she made shots.”
Mack, who Moren described as a high-energy player, did not shy away from showing emotion during her career-high scoring night.
In the second half, Mack knocked down three shots from behind the arc and did not hesitate with her array of celebrations and mockery of IU fans sitting courtside.
Monday night she more than doubled her number of three-point shots made this season.
“She burned us,” Moren said. “It’s one of those head-scratcher things that you just sit over there and go, 'Really, this is really happening?’”
The night was filled with momentum shifts, particularly late in quarters.
After Rutgers controlled much of the first half, IU went on a 7-0 run to end the quarter and go into the locker room trailing by one.
“We had the momentum going into the half,” junior forward Brenna Wise said.
And that momentum continued in the third with IU extending its run to 15-0 and building a seven-point lead in the third quarter.
But just as IU had done in the period before, Rutgers closed out the third quarter giving itself momentum with a 5-0 run and cutting IU’s lead to one.
“In this game, you’re going to have those momentum shifts,” Moren said. “You expect to have those, although you’re disappointed because when you get a little bit of a lead, you’re trying to hang on to it, and we’ve been in too many situations where we’ve had that lead and we just haven’t been able to hang on to it.”
Earlier this season when IU lost 69-64 at Rutgers, IU experienced a similar result, blowing a double-digit lead in the second half.
Rutgers is a team that not only has been in the top 25 this season and continues to receive votes, but it’s also a team that plays aggressively and creates energy from the bench and on the court.
“They’re just like their coach, tough and gritty” Moren said. “You’ve got to give them credit because they have the grittiness and the toughness that you need when you get down and you have to battle back on somebody else’s floor.”
On the opposing sideline was a coach with more than a good track record in the NCAA. While Moren is stuck at 99 wins with IU and 298 overall in her career, her counterpart C. Vivian Stringer picked up her 495th win with Rutgers and 1,015th overall.
Moren’s next shot toward No. 100 will be at 8 p.m. Thursday in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall against No. 10 Iowa.
IU is still playing without its leading scorer in junior guard Ali Patberg, but Moren said she expects Patberg to be back for Thursday’s matchup. However, the number of minutes she will be able to play is still to be determined.
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