Indiana Daily Student

Three things to know before No. 18 IU women’s basketball’s first road game

Senior Brenna Wise defends against Jackson State University on Nov. 17 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. IU women's basketball will play the University of Florida on Friday night in Gainesville, Florida.
Senior Brenna Wise defends against Jackson State University on Nov. 17 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. IU women's basketball will play the University of Florida on Friday night in Gainesville, Florida.

No. 18 IU women’s basketball earned its highest ever program ranking Tuesday following its 91-51 victory over Jackson State University. The Hoosiers now travel to Gainesville, Florida, for its first road game against the undefeated University of Florida. 

Although this top-20 ranking made program history, IU head coach Teri Moren said the team is not focused on rankings. 

“To be the first time anything is special, but it’s much too early to be talking about rankings,” Moren said. “We know that we have an incredible amount of work still to do.” 

The Hoosiers are averaging 92 points per game while allowing only 50. Contributors have come from all positions and classes who have kept this team well above their competitors. 

Friday’s contest is IU’s final match before Paradise Jam begins during Thanksgiving weekend. This will also be a test to see how the freshmen perform outside of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall against a program that is yet to lose this season.

“Coach always says ‘We are as good as we prepare,’ and I think our coaches have prepared us so much for these games,” junior guard Ali Patberg said. 

Here are three things to know ahead of the Hoosiers and Gators clash Friday.

Minimal history between these programs

IU is 3-1 all-time against Florida. The most recent game was last year in Bloomington where IU dominated the second and third quarters, walking away with an 83-64 win.

Senior forward Brenna Wise led the scoring with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Junior forward Jaelynn Penn and senior forward Kym Royster put up 13 points while combining for 13 rebounds and four assists. 

Prior to last year’s game, the Hoosiers toppled the Gators 102-88 in Dec. 2016. That game, marked the first matchup between the two teams since 1998 where the Gators defeated the Hoosiers in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

Before that, the programs squared off in Gainesville in 1981 where IU took the first ever contest, 81-51. 

The Gators are off to a strong start

Florida is coming off a 60-46 victory over Presbyterian College. It is 4-0 this season and has skated by opponents thus far with its athleticism and ability to run the floor.

Offensively, the Gators are averaging 71.8 points per game while giving up 53.3. They are led by junior guard Kiara Smith who is posting 13.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. 

Smith’s team high 18 assists have been crucial in facilitating ball movement, opening up senior forward Zada Williams and freshman guard Lavender Briggs down low and around the perimeter. 

“Briggs is going to challenge us on the outside but she also has a really great midrange game,” Moren said. 

A weak spot with this Florida team is free throw shooting. At only 57%, Florida could run into trouble if Friday’s game turns into a foul shooting contest to decide the game. 

Moren continues to spread the minutes

Existing injuries and injury concerns have kept Moren and her coaching staff from playing just about anyone more than 30 minutes this season. Sophomore guard Grace Berger’s 33 minutes in the season opener has been the only tally above the 30-minute mark.

Freshman guard Chanel Wilson continues to look healthier despite wearing the leg brace and Penn’s 10 points in 23 minutes against Jackson State showed signs of progress as well.

As the season progresses and Moren refines her rotation, expect the minutes to go up for starters like Wise, Berger and Patberg. 

“It’ll be good for us to get our feet wet away from the hall,” Moren said. “It’ll be a true test of where we are as a team and give us a lot of things I know we’re gonna have to be better at.”

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