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Dominance from coast to coast: Brenna Wise lifts IU past UNF



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Senior Brenna Wise talks with a coach during a timeout Dec. 7 against the University of North Florida in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Wise lead the team in points and rebounds in the IU victory. Colin Kulpa

Coming off a screen, senior forward Brenna Wise caught a pass, drove through three defenders and finished a layup with a smooth spin move. She was the first one back on defense and a lethal option on offense. 

No. 14 IU women’s basketball defeated the University of North Florida 72-45 on Saturday in its first game back at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in nearly three weeks. 

The program’s win was highlighted by its only senior. 

“She took it upon herself to make some aggressive plays at the rim,” IU head coach Teri Moren said. “You expect your seniors to step up, and you have to have a veteran be responsible like that.” 

Wise finished with 22 points and nine rebounds on a night when she decimated the University of North Florida's defense and wreaked havoc on offense.

The Ospreys could not sink a shot with Wise in its faces. She closed out defenders around the perimeter and kept them from driving past her with nearly impeccable footwork. 

UNF junior forward Jazz Bond was held below her season average with Wise locking her down on the low block and around the paint. With a hand extended to Bond, Wise kept track of her while boxing out and preventing her from knocking down open threes.

Wise’s defensive highlights continued by drawing two early charges around the free throw line. Naturally, this led to a classic staple of her game: a double fist pump and celebratory screaming. 

“She is unique in so many ways on and off the floor,” Moren said. “She just has an energy that’s contagious and resonates throughout that locker room with her teammates.”

In transition, Wise broke up opportunities for Bond and senior forward Dasha Eremeeva to make easy lay-ins. Pointing with both hands and swinging her arms in all directions, she helped freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes and sophomore guard Aleksa Gulbe find their defenders and block shots during both halves.

On the scoring front, Wise took over the paint with backdoor cuts to the basket and pump fakes that set up floaters around the key. The Pittsburgh native drained both of her 3-point attempts during the third quarter on a night when IU struggled to knock down its shots from deep.

Wise also posted up on defenders and allowed junior guard Ali Patberg to find her throughout the entire night.

“Ali’s a distributor. She’s a scorer. She sees the floor well. She can defend — she really gets it going for us,” Wise said. 

After finding Wise for an open jumper midway through the first quarter, Patberg had the favor returned to her when Wise dished a pass to the right side of the key, allowing Patberg to draw the foul and make the layup. 

“Sharing the ball is huge because we have a weapon at every position,” Wise said. “On any given night, it's anybody’s game.”

As the Hoosiers began pulling away from the Ospreys toward the end of the third quarter, Wise’s passing ignited the fourth quarter offense. 

With seven minutes on the clock, she drove along the baseline and hooked a left-handed bounce pass to Holmes, who finished in traffic. Wise also helped swing the ball around the arc, throwing off the UNF defense and allowing IU to score easy points off defensive spacing issues. 

Her play off the ball was just as important as her on-ball contributions during the fourth quarter. 

Wise set screens down low within five seconds that freed up junior guard Jaelynn Penn. Penn, who ran from one corner to the other, knocked down an open three and brought roars from the crowd.

At the 2:37 mark in the fourth quarter, Moren sent in freshman center Hannah Noveroske to replace Wise. The applause she received was indicative of a game where she scored her season high. 

“Brenna has a zest for life, and you can count on her every single day to be the same,” Moren said. “She’s a special human being.”

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