Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: No. 20 IU women’s basketball puts 'mamba mentality' on display in comeback win

<p>Junior Jaeylnn Penn looks toward the IU bench Jan. 30 against Wisconsin at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Penn hit the game-tying 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, which IU won 75-65.</p>

Junior Jaeylnn Penn looks toward the IU bench Jan. 30 against Wisconsin at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Penn hit the game-tying 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, which IU won 75-65.

IU women’s basketball was down by 16 points with 2:59 left in the third quarter, its largest deficit of the night. Without panic, IU outscored Wisconsin 34-18 the rest of the way to force overtime before pulling away for a 75-65 win. 

Down three with 20 seconds left, junior guard Jaelynn Penn came off a screen and took a game-tying 3-pointer. 

“The first thing that went through my mind was just Kobe and what he would do,” Penn said. “Mamba mentality.”

Kobe Bryant was an inspiration to many athletes both young and old, and Penn said she is no different. Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash, sending shockwaves through the basketball world, but his memory lives on in the people such as Penn who aren’t afraid to take the big shot. 

“I think in my college years I’ve really studied him and tried to embrace that mamba mentality as I’ve gotten older,” Penn said. 

As one of the best 3-point shooters on the team, fans have seen Penn take those types of shots. It’s a shot that IU head coach Teri Moren is used to seeing. 

“I’m not surprised that she took it, and I’m not surprised that it went in,” Moren said. 

Early on in the game, it seemed like there was no fight in this team. The Hoosiers went down 18-4 in under six minutes. They made just four field goals in the first quarter, and three of those were by junior guard Ali Patberg. Going into halftime down just 12 seemed like a mistake. IU was outplayed on both ends of the floor yet was still in a position to come back. 

It didn’t seem like IU had any will to win until the end of the third quarter. With under a minute, senior forward Brenna Wise hit a 3-pointer before drawing a charge on the next possession. That’s the leadership Wise brings to this team.

Down double digits, she puts her body on the line to draw a foul because she knows her team needs her. 

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair. Every time IU cut into the lead, Wisconsin went on a little run to pull away. Looking for answers, IU turned to freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes, who put “mamba mentality” on full display. 

In the fourth quarter alone, Holmes converted three and-one attempts. She was on a mission every time she touched the ball in the paint.

With every layup and foul call, she got the fans back into it. Almost everyone at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall rose to their feet when they heard the whistle, providing the spark IU needed to finish off the comeback. 

Overtime was all IU. The Hoosiers took their first lead of the night with eight straight points. The person who started the scoring explosion was sophomore guard Grace Berger. 

Berger entered overtime with one point on 0-11 shooting. Despite the struggles, she continued to shoot, putting her head down and laying one in to start overtime scoring. Later in the period, she pulled up for a 3-pointer and hit the dagger, putting IU up nine with 1:38 left. 

It seemed like not a single player on IU had any thoughts of quitting. Despite not leading for all of regulation, the players kept fighting. They kept their heads up, stayed confident and kept taking shots. 

That’s what “mamba mentality” is all about.

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