With four games remaining in the regular season, IU women’s basketball will be facing three opponents for the second time this season.
First up will be No. 23 Rutgers, a team that defeated IU 69-64 on Jan. 31 at the Rutgers Athletic Center. This time around IU will play host at 7 p.m. Monday in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
As IU looks to build a stronger résumé for the NCAA Tournament, here are three things to know for the matchup.
1. Second matchups have hurt IU but only on the road.
IU has already faced Michigan and Michigan State two times this season, and in both cases the first matchup went IU’s way.
But defeating both teams in January, the Hoosiers could not pick up road wins against either team last week. The Hoosiers come into Monday’s matchup on a three-game losing streak due to losses against the Spartans and Wolverines last week combined with a loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Feb. 6.
Rutgers has faced Maryland and Penn State twice this season and split the second matchups.
What IU has in its favor for this repeat battle is home-court advantage. IU is 9-3 at Assembly Hall this season but has lost its last two home games. If the Hoosiers want to keep themselves in postseason contention, they will need to lock up wins at home as well as beat teams the second time they play them.
Three of the final four games will be at home. Rutgers comes into the matchup with a 5-3 away record.
2. IU struggles defending guards.
Junior guard Ali Patberg’s injury was set to leave a mark on IU’s offense as she averages 15 points per game, but what may have been unexpected is the struggles IU has had defending guards.
Since Patberg was injured against Minnesota, guards have put up strong scoring numbers against IU. The team gave up 55 points to Michigan State’s three-guard starting lineup on Feb. 11. Junior Shay Colley had 32 points.
Three days later, it was more of the same against Michigan. The Wolverines’ three-guard lineup combined for 37 points.
Rutgers could present a similar issue, as junior guard Ciani Cryor had 22 points against IU in the first matchup and sophomore guard Arella Guirantes finished with 12 off the bench.
If IU wants to pull away with a win, guards Jaelynn Penn, Bendu Yeaney and Grace Berger will need to create more pressure on Rutgers’ guards.
3. No update on Ali Patberg.
While IU has struggled without Patberg, the team is still hopeful on getting her back before the end of the regular season.
No update has been given in regard to Patberg's injury, but IU Coach Teri Moren said she is confident in Berger, Yeaney and Penn being able to keep the up-tempo offense intact despite Patberg’s absence.
Coming off the bench, sophomore guard Keyanna Warthen has been a spark for IU at times this season. But despite her minutes going up during Patberg’s recovery, she has scored just two points in the past two games.
Berger has been able to step up a bit in Patberg’s absence, but more production from the bench will be vital if IU looks to pull off the upset Monday.
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