It took just one game for one of IU head coach Teri Moren’s prophecies to come to fruition.
Sophomore guard Grace Berger erupted for a career high 24 points as IU won comfortably over Mount St. Mary’s 75-52 on Thursday night.
Berger’s performance was highlighted by an 18-point first half in which she shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three point range.
“As I said, she really spent a lot of time this summer on her long game and really worked on her three point shot.” Moren said. “She realized that in order for our team to get better she had to get better in certain areas, and it was nice to see the fruits of her labor paying off.”
Not only did Berger’s improved shooting show itself, but it was clear that her overall game took a big leap from her freshman season. Berger tallied seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in her 33 minutes of action.
For reference, in 34 games last year, Berger averaged 5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in her roughly 20 minutes a game.
"I think the year of experience is huge,” Berger said. “Freshman year is hard, but I was able to learn a lot from it, so this year I’m looking to be more consistent and just a presence for my team every night on the court.”
Berger’s performance was magnified as well by the off nights for junior guard Ali Patberg, junior guard Jaelynn Penn and senior forward Brenna Wise. Wise and Patberg finished with just eight and six points respectively, while Penn was held scoreless on a two shot attempts.
The Hoosiers also turned the ball over 14 times in the second half, allowing the Mountaineers to outscore the Hoosiers 26-25 in the third quarter
“We’re happy with the win, but we know this." Moren said. "We have to be so much better, especially in the second half, at finishing off opponents."
Berger turned the ball over three times, but that stat feels like a minor footnote to what otherwise felt like a breakout game for the sophomore.
The question remains: Can Berger turn this breakout performance into the routine for the Hoosiers?
“I’d love for that to happen. I’d love for this to be a nightly occurrence for her,” Moren said. “When she pulls up for a mid range shot or tries to get to the rim, good things usually happen.”