Stolen passes and points in the paint contributed to a 109-43 victory for No. 24 IU women’s basketball Sunday against McKendree University. This was the largest tally of points put up by the Hoosiers in an exhibition game since 2005.
Sophomore guard Grace Berger decimated the Bearcat offense with six first-half steals. This number was more than the Hoosiers got in their entire exhibition match a season ago against Northwood University.
“We knew they were going to try to put the ball inside, and so our digs and ability to get in there and make them uncomfortable was a big one in the game this afternoon,” IU head coach Teri Moren said.
Pressure down low and at the top of the arc forced 24 McKendree turnovers. IU’s quick hands and tight defense led to seven players combining for 15 steals and a team total of 33 points off turnovers.
IU’s defense also held McKendree to just 17% from the floor in the first half and only 25% by the final whistle.
“The goal for us was to focus on defense,” Berger said. “We all came out ready to go, and it was good to get some quality stops and steals.”
Offensively for the Hoosiers, sophomore guard Aleksa Gulbe led the team with 20 points and contributed much to their 34 first-half points in the paint. The Hoosiers put up a total of 54 points down low on the afternoon.
Also contributing down low in her Hoosier debut was freshman forward Jorie Allen. The 2019 Indiana Miss Basketball knocked down both of her three point attempts and added four buckets around the paint.
Junior guards Ali Patberg and Keyanna Warthen added to the damage down low with 10 points coming from Patberg and 15 from Warthen.
Warthen also contributed a team-high eight assists, finding driving Hoosiers and those rotating around the perimeter. Her teammates knocked down 11 threes compared to the Bearcats’ four.
With the exception of limping off the court with a fourth quarter ankle injury, freshman guard Chanel Wilson facilitated the offense with seven assists.
Her court vision got the ball into tight spaces and allowed her teammates the opportunity for easy layups and open shots beyond the arc. She also put up nine points and three rebounds in 21 minutes of play.
Combined, Wilson and Warthen had almost triple the assists that McKendee finished with and made up two thirds of IU’s dimes. For a team that was last in the Big Ten in assists a season ago, Moren said Sunday’s win set the tone for an offense in need of more assists.
“The challenge for us is to do a much better job and improve in that area of sharing the ball,” Moren said. “I was excited to look down and see that we got our goal today. We wanted 15 or more, and we exceeded that.”
Seven Hoosiers finished in double figures as a result of the passing and efficient ball movement. For senior forward Brenna Wise, the passing is what showcases the roster’s ability to pile on the points.
“Our numbers are a testament to our depth and how many threats we have at each position,” Wise said. “Everybody is an option in our offense and that comes with touches and moving the ball.”
IU opens its season Thursday against Mount St. Mary’s University at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. With a week of reviewing film ahead, Moren said Sunday highlighted many positives and places for improvement.
“I really liked our effort and the way we managed the game throughout,” Moren said. “The season is here, and we are excited about the opportunity that we had to get back on the floor.”
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