Indiana Daily Student

IU women’s basketball avoids third straight loss with win over Nebraska

<p>Senior Ali Patberg, juniors Jaelynn Penn and Aleksa Gulbe and sophomore Mackenzie Holmes break from a huddle Dec. 20 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. No. 15 IU defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 81-45 in the first Big Ten game of the season.</p>

Senior Ali Patberg, juniors Jaelynn Penn and Aleksa Gulbe and sophomore Mackenzie Holmes break from a huddle Dec. 20 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. No. 15 IU defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 81-45 in the first Big Ten game of the season.

After ending the nonconference portion of its schedule on a sour note, No. 15 IU women’s basketball got back on track with an 81-45 win over Nebraska on Sunday to open up Big Ten play. 

Head coach Teri Moren’s squad had a miserable shooting effort Thursday against the University of Tennessee in its second consecutive loss by a narrow margin, but the Hoosiers were scoring early and often Sunday as they stayed in front of the Cornhuskers. 

“Those two losses kind of opened our eyes on what we have to work on going into Big Ten play,” junior forward Aleksa Gulbe said. “From game to game, you have to flip your mindset and just bring good energy – whatever happens.”

Moren’s biggest emphasis from the opening tipoff was to feed the ball inside for post looks to establish an early rhythm, and IU’s frontcourt was able to open up the entire offense and make the most of the opportunity. 

Sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes and Gulbe scored 21 of the team’s first 27 points, drawing the focus of the opposing defense to free up open shots for their teammates around the perimeter. The duo finished with 34 combined points and disrupted Nebraska’s offense near the basket.

Senior Keyanna Warthen laughs with senior Ali Patberg at halftime Dec. 20 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. No. 15 IU defeated Nebraska 81-45. Colin Kulpa

However, Gulbe’s presence on offense wasn’t limited to the paint. After missing multiple uncontested shots in Thursday’s loss, Gulbe responded with a 3-for-4 performance shooting from behind the arc. Holmes and Gulbe are at their best when they’re able to play off each other inside and out. 

“The fact that we’re constantly looking for each other adds a really good dynamic to the team,” Holmes said of Gulbe.

The Hoosiers got ahead of the Cornhuskers in the opening quarter before closing out the first half on a 20-5 run. IU never surrendered its lead and took advantage of Nebraska’s shorthanded group of just seven available players.

[Related: IU women’s basketball bounces back with cohesiveness against Nebraska]

With their next game scheduled just three days from now on the road against Minnesota, Moren opted to sit her starters for the entire fourth quarter. This decision wasn’t entirely about rest though, as several key reserves shared the court and earned some significant playing time off the bench. 

“It’s always nice to play a lot of kids in a game like this,” Moren said. “We need to have a bench. They need to give us energy, they need to score the ball, they need to rebound. I want them to come in and have an impact.”

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