Coming off a dominant win over rival Purdue, the No. 12 IU women's basketball team traveled to Iowa for a Sunday evening showdown. In an incredibly talented conference like the Big Ten, road wins are hard enough to come by and even harder when the home team hasn’t lost in 29 straight home games.
Despite Iowa's streak, IU fought hard from start to finish, coming up just short in a 91-85 defeat. Even with the loss, head coach Teri Moren’s squad proved why they are going to be the team to beat in the Big Ten.
One thing we learned from IU’s loss at Iowa is this team has no quit. Whether it is on the floor or cheering from the bench, every player is giving maximum effort at all times. IU trailed by one in regulation with under a minute to go. After a missed 3-pointer by sophomore forward Alexsa Gulbe, freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes showed that no-quit mentality by securing the offensive rebound. The possession stayed alive and allowed junior guard Ali Patberg to give the Hoosiers the lead.
It took a layup with four seconds left to keep the Hoosiers from leaving Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a big win and snapping the Hawkeyes' home winning streak. Even after Iowa stretched the lead out to five in the second overtime, IU stormed right back with four points in less than a minute to cut the lead to one. While that was the closest the score would get, IU fought until the final buzzer, something that can’t be taught.
IU is currently tied atop the Big Ten with a 4-1 conference record, but it looks like the team most suited to separate itself from the pack.
There are a few key ingredients needed to make a run at a conference title, and more importantly, a national title. One of those is talent on both ends of the floor. You have to be able to make a stop in crunch time and also be able to go get a bucket when needed. IU does both extremely well.
The Hoosiers are sitting at third in the conference with 75.6 points per game and fourth in points allowed with 55.8. That kind of efficiency will be key when games come down to the last play.
Another ingredient is teamwork. It sounds so simple, yet so many teams in history have relied too much on one player to carry their weight. IU distributes the ball at a high rate, tallying 15.2 assists per game. It also has five players averaging double digits per game. “Sharing the wealth” has been this team's identity all season long, and it’s a big reason why it has been so successful.
The final ingredient, and perhaps the most important, is good coaching. At any level of basketball, you can’t win without a great coach leading the way. Phil Jackson won six rings with the Chicago Bulls in the 90’s. John Wooden won 10 men’s championships at UCLA. And in women’s basketball, Geno Auriemma has shattered record after record coaching at the University of Connecticut.
Now I’m not saying Teri Moren is as good as these legends, but I am making the point that teams win with great coaching, and IU has a great coach.
Moren took over in 2014 and caused an immediate change. In school history, IU had advanced out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament just once: the first year they went in 1983. In her six years, Moren has already been to the second round twice. She also led her 2018 team to a Women's Nationa Invitation Tournament Championship, giving Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall an extra banner.
This team has already reached the highest ranking in school history, knocked off a top-five team and earned its best start ever in conference play. There are not many teams that can stand in its way, and the rest of the Big Ten better look out for the Hoosiers.