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Defense to make or break No. 15 IU women’s basketball against Northwestern



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Redshirt junior Ali Patberg talks to IU women’s basketball head coach Teri Moren after coming out of the game against Purdue on Jan. 9 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. IU will play Northwestern at 7p.m. Jan. 16 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall . Colin Kulpa

From the starting point guard to the forwards off the bench, No. 15 IU women's basketball makes use of all of its assets to put points on the board.

IU sits atop the Big Ten with the best record and highest field goal percentage in the conference. It is also third in scoring, with three of its players in the top 25 in points per game. 

The Hoosiers are also one of the best defensive-minded teams in the Big Ten. They are holding opponents to 55.8 points per game, the third fewest in the conference. 

“Our defense is what we hang our hat on,” junior guard Ali Patberg said following the team’s victory over Purdue on Jan. 9. 

IU returns to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday following its double overtime loss to Iowa on Sunday. The program takes on one of the Big Ten’s toughest defensive teams in Northwestern. 

Like IU, Northwestern holds opponents to under 54 points and has dynamic players of its own on offense. 

Here’s a look at three key players from the Wildcats and the Hoosiers:

Northwestern

Indiana Then-sophomore, now-junior guard Bendu Yeaney guards Northwestern then-sophomore, now-junior guard Lindsey Pulliam on a drive to the basket in the first half of the women’s basketball game Jan. 16. Jared Rigdon

Junior guard Lindsey Pulliam

Pulliam represents Northwestern’s greatest scoring threat. She is third in the conference in scoring and 13th in field goal percentage.

If IU manages to keep Pulliam’s shooting to a minimum, it still needs to lock down Northwestern’s frontcourt. 

Senior forward Abbie Wolf

Wolf stands at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and poses the greatest threat to IU’s frontcourt in the paint. While averaging a modest 11 points, Wolf leads Northwestern in offensive rebounds and sets the offense up for second-chance opportunities. 

Senior forward Abi Scheid

Scheid spreads the floor for the Wildcats. She uses her height near the basket and drains 3-pointers with 44% accuracy. 

IU senior forward Brenna Wise typically provides height and strength for the Hoosiers down low. Guarding Scheid. However, will force Wise to spend time around the perimeter as well as the paint. 

IU 

Redshirt junior Ali Patberg gives her teammates directions Dec. 7 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Patberg scored 6 points against North Florida. Claire Livingston

Junior guard Ali Patberg

Patberg leads the Hoosiers with 13 points and 4.7 assists per game. She attacks the paint, shoots 3-pointers without hesitation and dishes the ball around the arc or down low to her forwards.

The Hoosier point guard is also red-hot from beyond the arc, shooting 47% since Big Ten play began. Her ball control will be integral to bouncing back from the Hoosiers' loss to the Hawkeyes.

Freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes

The 2019 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year poses a rebounding and shooting threat to Wolf, Scheid and the Wildcats. Holmes shoots 68% from the floor. 

Although the freshman has struggled in recent games to get on the scoreboard, her footwork beneath the basket will be important in providing points and securing offensive rebounds when coming off the bench. 

Junior guard Jaelynn Penn

Penn was honored on Jan. 6 for scoring 1,000 career points in her time at IU. Since that game, her play has sparked her team's offense.

The guard scored 24 points in the Hoosiers’ loss to the Hawkeyes on Sunday, leading the offense with her jumpshot.

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