On the tan and brown court with a silhouette of a fir tree forest printed on it, Teri Moren stood wearing a black-and-white shirt, red pants and red beads around her neck.
The IU women’s basketball coach had a smile across her face inside Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon, as she added a new achievement to her resume.
After a 69-65 first-round victory over University of Texas, Moren has won two NCAA Tournament games, something IU head coach has done before.
Friday marked the team’s first trip to the Big Dance since 2016, and the No. 10-seeded Hoosiers had a tall — literally tall — test ahead of them. But unlike what IU did far too often this season, the team came out hot in the first quarter.
Sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn scored eight of her 24 points in the first five minutes, helping IU jump out to a 10-4 lead. When she needed to rest, her team was able to pick up the load in the frame.
Six different Hoosiers scored in the first quarter, igniting them to a 23-17 advantage. However, it appeared as though Texas would be too much to handle in the second.
The Longhorns continued to dominate on the boards, winning the rebound battle 46-25 in the game, and forcing the Hoosiers to turn the ball over five times in the second quarter after just one turnover in the first.
Junior Joyner Holmes dominated IU inside most of the way, bruising IU’s bigs while collecting 12 points and 12 rebounds.
IU scored just six points in the second quarter and trailed by eight points going into the locker room.
“The message is easy, we’ve been there before and fought our way back into a lot of games this year,” Moren said. “We did it once again.”
Just as the team did in the first, IU came out in the second half looking to get the ball to Penn.
Penn scored seven of the team’s first 12 points in the quarter and helped IU regain the lead within four minutes of play in the third. But as she struggled with foul trouble, junior forward Brenna Wise and sophomore guard Bendu Yeaney stepped up.
With their efforts — Wise with 10 points and Yeaney finishing with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals — IU was able to take a lead into the final 10 minutes.
The teams played evenly throughout most of the final frame, but it was Penn coming up big again to put the dagger in the Longhorns’ season. With two minutes remaining, Penn came around two screens to the right wing and nailed a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game.
Both team’s exchanged miscues down the stretch as IU committed a five-second violation while up two with less than 30 seconds left and Texas turned the ball over on the ensuing possession.
Eventually, IU was able to get junior guard Ali Patberg to the free throw line to hit a pair and stretch the lead to four points and come up with a stop as time expired to move on in the tournament.
“This was a complete team effort,” Moren said. “Our kids have to make the plays, but I’ve got a great staff that is awfully helpful over there on the sideline with big moments.”
IU won just its third NCAA Tournament game in program history.It is the first time since 2014 Texas will not make it as far as the Sweet 16.
IU will now await the winner of No. 2 University of Oregon and No. 15 Portland State University.
“This is about pride,” Yeaney said. “We didn’t just come out here for just for one game. We came out here to win and survive.”
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