No. 24 IU women’s basketball looks to win its second consecutive home matchup Sunday against Nicholls State University. The program has not lost a home game after of an opening home win since 1987.
Nicholls State lost its first and only match of the year Tuesday with a 71-47 loss to Rice University. It shot just 25.5% from the field and turned the ball over 17 times on the night.
Before the Hoosiers take the court against the Colonels, here are three things to know.
Berger will try to build on hot start.
Sophomore guard Grace Berger led the charge in Thursday’s victory with 24 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Her ability to attack the paint and shoot from deep kept the Hoosiers ahead despite the team’s poor second half performance.
“She’s super confident and not only do the coaches have confidence in her, but her teammates have confidence in her,” IU head coach Teri Moren said. “She’s pretty consistent and doesn’t take bad shots.”
Berger drove down the right side of the court and into the key, freeing senior forward Brenna Wise and freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes for layups on the lower left block.
The sophomore also caused a frenzy for McKendree University, picking off passes near midcourt and setting up plays in transition. IU racked up 18 points off turnovers and Berger’s passing in transition was behind much of that scoring.
Bench productivity is a strength.
IU’s starters were not alone in offensive production against McKendree. Its bench put up roughly 40% of the team’s points.
Holmes led the scoring off the bench with 15 points and seven rebounds in only 19 minutes of play. Her presence down low on offense contributed to second chance opportunities and also prevented them from happening on defense.
Although Holmes still has a ways to go in establishing herself as a defender, her play Thursday showed Moren promise going forward.
Despite an off night for junior guard Ali Patberg, Moren had other options at the ball handling position from her bench.
Freshman guard Chanel Wilson bounced back from her injury in last week’s exhibition and put up nine points in 13 minutes during her collegiate debut. She buried two threes in the span of a minute and spread the floor in her brief stint on the court.
According to Moren, having Wilson step up alongside or in place of Patberg contributes positively to the team’s offense.
“They’re different in terms of speed and quickness but they can stretch you out,” Moren said. “Our fans got a little bit of an idea that she can knock down the three with a lot of confidence.”
A more efficient second half.
Moren and her coaching staff were less than satisfied with the ending of IU’s home opener.
IU shot less than 29% from the floor in the second half and surrendered more points than it scored. By comparison, IU shot 64.5% in the first half and scored double the amount it did in the first half than the second.
Although this was just one game into the season, second half performances like opening night could be indicative of future difficulty closing out games.