Indiana Daily Student

Standout performances mean a little less as No. 20 IU’s defense collapses

<p>Junior guard Jaelynn Penn fights for the ball Feb. 16 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Penn scored 14 points against Ohio State. </p>

Junior guard Jaelynn Penn fights for the ball Feb. 16 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Penn scored 14 points against Ohio State.

No. 20 IU women’s basketball has blown three leads in the fourth quarter during Big Ten play, but its 80-76 loss to Ohio State on Sunday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall marks back-to-back losses at home.

Not only did IU blow a 10-point lead, but the team blew it to the fifth-place team in the conference. Ohio State sits just a half game back of IU in fourth place, which guarantees double bye in the Big Ten tournament.

IU will struggle for a NCAA tournament home game with the loss as well, needing a clean run through the Big Ten Tournament to compete for a top four seed in the nation.

The Hoosiers had the offensive contributions they needed with four players in double figures and 76 points in the game, but their trademark defense faltered in the end while what was a 10-point lead became a four-point loss.

“I think what’s frustrating is that I feel like this has happened the past couple games,” junior guard Ali Patberg said. “We have not been communicating on defense like we need to down the stretch, and I think tonight we got beat.”

Patberg was not an issue offensively, leading the way for IU with 22 points, six assists and three rebounds. She took care of the ball and only turned it over three times in 36 minutes of play.

Sophomore forward Aleksa Gulbe scored 14 points along with five rebounds in an impressive follow up to her 15-point, eight-rebound performance Thursday against Illinois.

“She’s been really aggressive not just offensively but rebounding the ball for us,” IU head coach Teri Moren said. “And she has been a great five defender for us. If there’s a kid that was steady again, back-to-back performances, certainly it would be (Aleksa).”

Gulbe’s offensive outburst led to more touches, which resulted in 12 free-throw attempts and seven fouls drawn against the Buckeyes. Moren said she would’ve liked a few more free throws.

“She’s getting to the free throw line, which is terrific,” Moren said. “It means we’re getting her the ball. She has to get more shot attempts.”

IU junior guard Jaelynn Penn dropped 14 points and has remained a consistent contributor on offense with double-digit scoring in her last eight games. Penn, like many of her teammates, did a lot of her work at the free throw line after shooting only 4-12 from the field.

“Like we tell our kids, you either make the shot or you get to the free throw line,” Moren said.

IU shot 78% from the free throw line, making up for its 42% shooting from the floor.

No matter how many Hoosiers chipped in at the free throw line or in the scoring column, they could not stop the Buckeyes’ offensive explosion. They shot 78.6% in the fourth quarter.

The Buckeyes found themselves on a 15-2 run the second half of the fourth quarter that put them in front and allowed them to put up 31 points to the Hoosiers 21.

OSU turned the game into a race up and down the court that opened up the 3-pointer, where it went 3-5 in the quarter and 9-22 in the game.

At the start of the fourth, OSU held a narrow 20-18 advantage for points in the paint. By the end of the game, it had ballooned to a 34-22 advantage.

As soon as OSU switched to a high zone defense it began forcing poor shots from IU. Its defense turned into offense and promptly turned the game in its favor. IU’s defense looked confused throughout the quarter.

Even on a day when all the stars showed up with their best offense, IU’s best asset went missing.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted,” Moren said. “Whether they showed up and they played well, it's beside the point today.”

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