It was only a four-day layoff for No. 14 IU women’s basketball, but there was some evident rust as the Hoosiers beat No. 21 University of Miami, 58-45.
Without sophomore guard Grace Berger and with a limited sophomore forward Aleksa Gulbe, the Hoosiers relied on stingy defense and timely shotmaking to defeat the Hurricanes for the team’s seventh win of the season.
Gulbe did play and put up 10 points, but it was a 12-point first half for junior guard Ali Patberg and 16-point second half for junior guard Jaelynn Penn that proved to be the difference in the game.
Neither team looked particularly sharp in the first quarter, as the Hoosiers and Hurricanes combined for 10 turnovers. Patberg saved the Hoosiers from their slow start with eight of the 14 points on 4-5 shooting.
Take her out of the equation and IU would have been down 11-6 while shooting 20% for the quarter.
The second quarter felt a little like deja vu for IU as it was only marginally better holding on to the ball. In fact it fell behind 22-25 with three minutes to go in the half.
The Hoosiers caught a break as the Hurricanes’ senior forward Beatrice Mompremier had to take a seat with two fouls. This opened the door for Gulbe to score seven of her 10 points and lead the Hoosiers on an 11-0 run to end the half.
The Hoosiers' strong third quarter helped them stretch the lead to 11 while shooting 41% for the game.
The shooting percentages of both teams took a dive as neither could hit a shot to start the fourth. Miami managed to whittle the lead to 6 after hitting five free throws.
Senior forward Brenna Wise gave the Hoosiers a needed jolt, hitting a corner three for the first basket of the quarter with 3:40 to go.
Penn then took over the rest of the way, knocking down a three and nailing all six free throws she took to solidify the Hoosiers' lead.
Penn’s half overall was encouraging as she not only put the game on ice for IU, but she also broke out of a shooting slump, shooting 50% from three and 40% from the field. Her presence on offense will be crucial while Berger is out.
Penn’s defense also was a catalyst for IU’s on the whole, as they held Miami to just 22% shooting for the game, and 1-17 in the fourth quarter.
Scoring will have to come by committee as the Hoosiers await the return of their leading scorer in Berger. The good news is the Hoosiers can count on Penn, Patberg and solid defense in the meantime.
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