Senior guard Jaelynn Penn is known for being a pickpocket on defense, something Minnesota learned the hard way Wednesday.
Penn challenged the Golden Gophers as they casually walked the ball up the court at the end of the third quarter, and Penn came away with her fourth steal of the afternoon before drawing contact for an and-one layup.
Penn was the lone starter for the Hoosiers to not average ten or more points per game this season entering the day, but the guard was all over the floor in IU’s 75-54 win over Minnesota. She stuffed the stat sheet with five rebounds and three assists to go along with her season-high 19 points, making Penn the fifth Hoosier with a double-figure scoring average.
“Defensively I thought Jaelynn Penn was really good,” IU head coach Teri Moren said. “[Penn] being able to hit some shots from the outside this afternoon, that was big as well.”
Penn struggled early on after opening the game’s scoring with a 3-pointer on her first shot from the field. This was Penn’s first made shot from behind the arc in over two games, but it was followed by consecutive misses on her next four shot attempts.
Luckily for IU, Penn has a very short memory when it comes to shooting the ball. The Kentucky native connected on six of her next eight field goals, including three more catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.
Penn also got involved near the basket offensively, burning multiple Golden Gopher defenders on a few back-door cuts that led to wide-open layups.
“We knew that our advantage was in the paint,” Penn said. “We were just trying to take advantage of the middle of the zone and the paint area, and we just got kick-outs and took good looks, took good shots.”
Penn had surgery this offseason having dealt with plantar fasciitis throughout her junior campaign, and now the senior guard is starting to look more and more like her normal self again.
She already knew she was capable of scoring the ball at all three levels, but it’s her defense that has impressed Penn the most since her recovery. Moren matched her up against dynamic guard Jasmine Powell for much of the game, and Penn limited Minnesota’s leading scorer to just 12 points.
“I think my defense improved drastically, just because I’m able to move around on the court without any pain,” Penn said. “I’m able to do more offensively... but I think the biggest thing is defensively and having confidence one-on-one.”