No. 17 IU women’s basketball has struggled to put opponents away over the last two weeks. The Hoosiers started the season 13-2 but have lost their last three games.
“We’re going through a bit of a rough patch right now,” IU head coach Teri Moren said after Monday’s loss to No. 20 Maryland. “We feel like we are a much better basketball team than we’ve been playing as of late.”
Overtime losses against No. 19 Iowa and No. 22 Northwestern left some players in tears. Costly turnovers resulted in blown leads and eventual losses. Monday’s blowout against Maryland came from an offense that lost track of the ball and a defense that couldn’t lock opponents down.
IU heads to Penn State on Thursday for its second straight road game before returning to Bloomington. Another loss would cause another drop in the AP poll.
The Hoosiers have won five of their last six games against the Nittany Lions and are 14-33 all-time against their conference opponent.
IU won the most recent game against Penn State 83-75 on Dec. 31, 2018 in Bloomington. Then-sophomore guard Ali Patberg put up 26 points and eight rebounds, cutting through Penn State's defense to lead IU to victory.
During this three game slump, Patberg averaged 11 points on 37% shooting. She struggled to hit 3-pointers and make contested shots, but managed to find her forwards near the basket and provide the offense multiple opportunities to score.
Freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes was honored as a Co-Freshman of the Week by the conference office Monday for her dominant performance in the overtime loss against Northwestern. Holmes scored 22 points in that game and has been a vital scoring asset for IU during its losing streak.
Patberg and fellow Hoosiers look for Holmes to post up beneath the rim, but defenders are catching on to the freshman’s post moves. The Terrapins sent defenders to force the ball out of Holmes’ hands, which took away the freshman’s ability to keep her team in the game.
Sophomore guard Grace Berger was another sharp shooter that Patberg has found throughout this losing skid. Despite the recent increase in turnovers, Berger rose above defenders and knocked down jump shots from the midrange.
She led the team with 21 points against the Terrapins and used her quick hands to steal the ball opposing guards around the perimeter. She will be tasked with defending against the Nittany Lions’ junior guard Kamaria McDaniel.
McDaniel is not a threat from behind the arc but leads the team in points. The junior is capable of driving through traffic, drawing fouls and knocking down her free throws.
Senior guard Siyeh Frazier is another scoring threat for Penn State. She can shoot from deep and spread the floor on offense. Frazier averages more than two steals per game and will look to continue forcing turnovers from Berger and Patberg.
Another trend for IU is the decline in minutes for senior forward Brenna Wise.
The lone senior played only 14 minutes in her scoreless appearance at Maryland. Wise averaged five points during her team’s skid and has been unable to knock down shots outside the paint.