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IU women's basketball blows multiple leads in overtime loss against Northwestern


Sophomore Grace Berger shoots the ball Jan. 16 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Berger scored 16 points against Northwestern. Claire Livingston

No. 15 IU women’s basketball suffered its second straight overtime loss to a conference opponent Thursday after falling 71-69 to Northwestern.

The blunders started even before the game tipped off when the team’s introduction video froze on the big screen and a night of late mistakes and blown leads followed.

“I can’t snap my fingers and make us better decision-makers right now,” IU head coach Teri Moren said. “We gotta figure out how to overcome it and be better.”

After breaking Northwestern’s zone in the second quarter, the Hoosier offense found its rhythm. At the helm of the offense were freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes and junior guard Ali Patberg. 

Holmes racked up 22 points and nine rebounds as the offense went on a 16-7 run. Despite her season high, Holmes was far from satisfied with the team’s performance. 

“I would trade any stat that I have for a win,” Holmes said.

Patberg’s 12 points padded the lead to seven at the half. Patberg attacked the paint and found her teammates who opened themselves up off the ball. 

Sophomore forward Aleksa Gulbe and sophomore guard Grace Berger made their way to the right corner of the free throw line to receive the ball and hit jump shots in traffic. When defenders doubled down on the sophomores, they found Patberg or Holmes nearby. 

IU’s lead swelled to 10 by the end of the third quarter. Five players had six or more points, and the team continued to hold Northwestern out of the contest. 

Junior guard Lindsey Pulliam, the Wildcats’ team leader in points, shot just 5/22 from the floor and was shut down by the Hoosier defense. 

By the halfway point of the fourth quarter, it looked like IU had successfully bounced back from its loss to Iowa. Then something shifted. 

“They were quicker to the ball than we were, and that was disappointing, especially on our home floor,” Moren said. “Careless turnovers and careless decisions down the stretch.”

The Hoosiers hit a cold spell, missing six of their last seven shots in the fourth quarter. Northwestern hit four of its final five and finished the fourth on an 11-2 run that tied the game. 

On the final play of the quarter, Moren’s goal was to get the ball to Holmes or Berger. Gulbe rushed a screen, which did not allow Holmes to open herself up for a pass. As the clock ticked, Berger managed to get the ball to Holmes, who missed at the buzzer.

“We got careless, and we got careless in the wrong moments,” Moren said. “As a staff we’ve gotta figure out why we are collapsing in those moments and how to fix it.” 

IU looked like it would pull away with roughly 90 seconds left in overtime. It had a four-point lead and the ball in transition. 

Turnovers by Holmes and junior guard Jaelynn Penn, however, blew the lead as the Wildcats knocked down a three and hit three free throws on later possessions to take the win from the Hoosiers. 

“It’s hard to take positives from a loss, but we know it’s still early in the season, and we’re going to go back and watch film,” Berger said. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of things that we can learn from this game.”

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