INDIANAPOLIS — Five players were named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.
The group didn't include IU sophomore Bendu Yeaney.
Yeaney said she felt hurt she was left off the list, but came out Thursday night against Minnesota and proved why she thought she should’ve been. Yeaney matched up against the Gophers’ best player, senior guard Kenisha Bell, and forced her into just 5-of-23 shooting as the Hoosiers won 66-58 and advanced in the Big Ten Tournament.
“I wanted to be able to come out and show that I can stop the best player and that’s what I do every single night,” Yeaney said. “She takes a lot of shots, so I just had to make sure that she was not having a rhythm.”
In the third quarter, Yeaney came up with a massive block where she spiked the ball into the ground and saved the ball inbounds herself.
IU Coach Teri Moren also believes Yeaney should have made Big Ten All-Defensive Team and said instead of polling coaches they should poll players that Yeaney has guarded such as Bell.
It wasn’t just defense that helped IU push past Minnesota, it was the team’s hot start to the game. All season long, Moren has harped on the first four minutes of quarters and getting out to good starts, and Thursday night the Hoosiers shot 9-of-14 in the first quarter and led the Gophers 20-10.
“It starts from the beginning and you really don’t wanna start from behind,” junior forward Brenna Wise said.
The second quarter was similar to the first as IU hit 8-of-15 shots but then began to light it up from behind the 3-point line as well after going 0-of-2 in the first.
Junior guard Ali Patberg began the barrage as she hit one from the right wing, then the next possession she pulled up from a fast break to drain her second consecutive. Wise fed off her shooting as she went on to hit threestraight 3-pointers to give IU its biggest lead of the game at 15.
“As long as somebody is getting us going, that challenges everybody else to step it up to that level,” Wise said.
IU took a 14-point lead into halftime, but Minnesota began to scratch away at the lead toward the end of the third quarter and into the fourth. The Gophers started running a full-court press, as well as switching up its defensive schemes to zone and then to man, trying to throw off IU’s rhythm.
With 2:33 left in the game, Minnesota cut the lead to six and tension began to grow high in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. With 33 seconds left, sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn stepped the free-throw line with a 52-66 lead. With her four teammates standing behind her, Penn missed the first. Wise quickly ran over to her to say something in her ear.
“I just said, ‘Baby you shoot these every day. You got this. Knock it down,’” Wise said.
Penn made it to extend IU's lead to seven points, putting a figurative nail in the coffin. Patberg, who finished the game with a team-leading 20 points, would eventually dribble out the clock with her right hand and raised her left arm in the air for victory.
The Hoosiers exited the court with a standing ovation from the IU fans in attendance.
During the free throws Penn shot with 33 seconds left, the Iowa Hawkeyes, who watched the entire game from the stands, got up from the opposite end of the court and exited the arena as they knew who their opponent will be tomorrow.
IU defeated Iowa earlier this season 75-73, erasing a 16-point comeback. At 6:30 p.m. Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, it will be the No. 10-seeded Hoosiers versus the No. 2-seeded Hawkeyes.
“It’s going to be a tough effort like it was the first game and we’re going to have to fight,” Yeaney said. “It’s probably going to come down to the last minute again.”
Unlike last year, IU will head into its second game of the Big Ten Tournament without the four overtimes of basketball the Hoosiers had to play last year against Michigan State, which led to a loss to Maryland.
“We have our legs,” Yeaney said. “We’re just going to have to fight for those 40 minutes and see who comes out on top.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The IDS regrets this error.
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