Indiana Daily Student

Three things to know before IU women’s basketball faces Samford

<p>Then-junior guard Ali Patberg searches for a teammate to throw the ball to. No. 13 IU plays Samford University on Thursday night.</p>

Then-junior guard Ali Patberg searches for a teammate to throw the ball to. No. 13 IU plays Samford University on Thursday night.

From one nonconference challenger to the next, No. 13 IU women’s basketball will look to build off its historic season-opening win over Eastern Kentucky University in its second game Thursday against Samford University.

As well as the Hoosiers performed in their 100-51 win over the Colonels, head coach Teri Moren’s squad can’t afford to get complacent with their next opponent. Samford is one of the more experienced teams on IU’s schedule, and the Bulldogs are seeking their first win of the season following a pair of losses.

Past the brilliant shooting from sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes and all-around effort from junior guard Grace Berger in last week’s win, there’s still some work to be done for the Hoosiers.

Here are three things to know before IU tips off against Samford at 6 p.m. Thursday from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

Don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs keep things close

Samford was on the verge of a potential NCAA Tournament bid after winning a share of the Southern Conference’s regular-season title, and the Bulldogs retained a lot of their talent from last season.

While Samford doesn’t exactly match up with IU physically, the Bulldogs are experienced enough to make things interesting. Led by dynamic guard-forward Shauntai Battle and center Natalie Armstrong, Samford could have as many as four of their five seniors in the starting lineup. 

The Bulldogs are 0-2, but they stayed competitive on the road last week against University of Alabama and Auburn University. After the Crimson Tide handed them a 15-point loss, the Bulldogs responded with a near-upset of the Tigers in a 66-64 defeat.

“They’ll be one of the most sound teams that we play this season in terms of their discipline and how they play,” Moren said.

Moren thinks Samford could present similar challenges as EKU

As dominant as the win looked on paper, IU was definitely tested by Eastern Kentucky in some phases of the game. The Colonels made the Hoosiers work for open looks on offense with a zone defense, but also imposed their will on the glass. While IU held a 56-40 rebounding advantage, it also conceded 17 offensive rebounds to Eastern Kentucky.

A new opponent brings about new challenges, but Moren expects the Bulldogs to pose similar threats as the Colonels on each end of the floor. Whether it’s finding alternative ways to spread out on offense to attack their zone or getting in position to secure defensive rebounds, certain adjustments could go a long way for IU.

“We have to not just match but exceed their hustle and their energy when they come in here tomorrow night,” Moren said. “If we don’t do a better job of boxing out, then it could potentially be a long day for us.”

The Hoosiers play again in three days

The team’s nonconference schedule features four games in as many weeks, but its next two contests come just three days apart.

This Sunday, IU will be on the road for the first time all season when they take on No. 11 University of Kentucky. That game will not only serve as a good indicator of how the Hoosiers stack up compared to some ranked competition this season, but also how they play on short rest.

“I think it’s going to be a tremendous challenge but it’s one that I know our kids are looking forward to, Moren said. “They’re excited about the opportunity right now to play games and not practice as much as we are.”

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