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Frontcourt spark lifts No. 12 IU women’s basketball over Purdue



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Sophomore Aleksa Gulbe attempts a shot Jan. 9 against Purdue in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Gulbe led the No. 12 Hoosiers with eight rebounds in the victory over the Boilermakers. Colin Kulpa Buy Photos

Freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes’ eyes lit up as she saw the open basket before her during the second half. She had missed every opportunity to score in the first half. Holmes switched the ball to her left hand and hooked it into the basket as she drew the foul. The Hoosier front court was held scoreless in the first half, but it came alive in the third quarter. 

No. 12 IU women’s basketball defeated Purdue 66-48 Thursday to continue its undefeated streak against conference opponents. Neither team shot the ball well, but it was IU that pulled away through the second-half efforts of its forwards. 

Holmes and sophomore forward Aleksa Gulbe combined for an uncharacteristic zero points during the first half. They missed a total of six shots and turned the ball over five times. 

Their teammates faced tight defense from the Boilermakers and struggled to get the ball into post. And when the ball made its way to the low block, Purdue was there to prevent Gulbe or Holmes from taking over the paint.

“We had a pretty slow start,” Gulbe said. “But coach said we had to move the ball against their zone and cut, and that gave us the opportunities to score.” 

The Hoosiers shot 31% in the first half, missing open jumpers and getting stuffed by the Boilermaker forwards below the basket. 

A bright spot for IU in the first half came from junior guard Ali Patberg. She tallied 11 points and helped sophomore guard Grace Berger break Purdue’s half court press. 

Patberg finished with a team high of 18 points and high praise from IU head coach Teri Moren.

“To have a kid as talented and skilled as she is, who is in the gym all the time, and works on her game — good things should happen for kids like that," Moren said.

Despite the production from IU’s backcourt, its lead was only 12 at the half. With both teams fighting to hit their shots, it was still either team’s game.

IU fired on all cylinders in the third quarter to pull away from Purdue. The team shot 50% from the floor, cut down turnovers and got its front court into the game. 

Holmes, who had no points or rebounds in the first half, put up five points and collected four rebounds. The freshman boxed out Purdue forwards and forced turnovers by getting her hands in the passing lane. 

Gulbe attacked the paint and gave herself three opportunities to go to the line and hit foul shots. When defenders tried forcing her away from the low block, she shifted to the high post and knocked down mid-range shots. 

The forward finished the night with 10 points and added four blocks in a performance that sparked the aggressive mentality of the Hoosiers’ third quarter. 

“Defensively, we were terrific,” Moren said. “We didn’t give Purdue anything easy.”

Senior forward Brenna Wise helped Gulbe lock down the Boilermakers in the key throughout the night. Wise forced bad passes and shot clock violations as the Hoosiers carried their third quarter confidence through the finish. 

Wise also broke free of her scoring slump, putting up nine points and adding six rebounds in the team’s fourth straight win. 

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