In the first game of the season, No. 24 IU women’s basketball beat Mount St. Mary’s, 75-52. A 25-point win looks like a great way to start the season, but anyone who watched the second half will tell you that’s not the case.
After shooting 62.5% from the field in the first and 66.7% in the second, IU came out flat in the second half, not breaking the 30% mark in the third or forth. That leaves me wondering if IU head coach Teri Moren and her team have what it takes to finish games.
“We’re happy obviously with a win, but we know we got to be so much better, especially in the second half at finishing off opponents,” Moren said.
The problem was visible right out of halftime. Sophomore guard Grace Berger was a perfect 6-6 from the field, including 3-3 from three in the first half. The second half wasn’t as kind, as she missed her first four attempts. After exploding for 18 points in the first half, she only contributed six in the second.
A big contributing factor to the lackluster half was due to the play of junior guard Ali Patberg. The usually reliable point guard struggled from the field, going just 3-8 with eight points. She also uncharacteristically turned the ball over five times, but she wasn’t the only one being careless with the ball.
As a team, the Hoosiers had 18 turnovers, six of those coming in just the fourth quarter. That kind of play won’t win games against better teams, and Moren used the perfect adjectives to describe the ball handling: sloppy.
“Well we were sloppy; we turned it over 14 times in the second half,” Teri Moren said. “I went into halftime pretty pleased. We had only turned it over four times. But when we get careless with the ball, which leads to other problems for us.”
The problems on offense weren’t just with the ball handling. The second half shot selection was just not good. Possessions went way too long and ended up with forced shots as the shot clock ran down. In the second half IU made a total of eight shots.
It looked like a different team than the one in the first half, one that had 10 made baskets in each of the first two quarters.
Turnovers will happen in the first game. Players will be antsy. That can be excused.
What I can’t overlook is the fact that junior guard Jaelynn Penn, IU’s leading three-point scorer a season ago, had just two shots. Now, I don’t know if that’s a result of Penn passing up looks or if she just didn’t feel comfortable, but she needs to shoot the ball. If the Hoosiers want to be successful moving forward, everybody needs to get involved on the floor, including Penn.
Now, I’m probably overreacting. It’s just the first game after all.
I’m sure the problems will be fixed by late November when the real competition begins. Moren is too good of a coach to not address her team's play.
But should these issues still be lingering by late November, we have a problem. IU faces two currently ranked teams — No. 2 Baylor University and No. 8 University of South Carolina — in the Paradise Jam tournament on Nov. 28 and 29, respectively. If the Hoosiers want any chance to knock off those teams and later compete for a Big Ten title, they need to figure out how to finish games.