No.16 IU women’s basketball climbed back after trailing most of the game against No. 21 Northwestern on Sunday afternoon, winning 74-61 in its return from a 10-day hiatus.
The Hoosiers had a rocky start early in the game as they grappled with Northwestern’s stifling defense on the post. The Wildcats were quick to double or triple team sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes and anyone else who attempted to drive to the basket in the first quarter. Northwestern’s stops down low gave them a 21-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Northwestern’s tough defense continued to rattle IU in the second quarter, forcing four turnovers in addition to four turnovers in the first quarter. The Hoosiers uncharacteristically gave the Wildcats 13 points off turnovers in the first half.
Despite outscoring Northwestern 17-15 in the second quarter, IU could not maintain a lead. Northwestern led 36-33 by halftime.
“In the first half we were missing a lot of the shots that we usually make,” Holmes said. “We had one of two choices. It was either feel sorry for ourselves that the ball is not going in, or make the next one. I think that we were very mature in the second half.”
Head coach Teri Moren said the first half of play didn’t look like her team and that everyone was frustrated at how the team was starting off play again. Moren told her players, and herself, to take deep breaths at halftime and said that playing with emotion is normal but that being emotional can’t affect play.
Yet the third quarter was much of the same narrative for the Hoosiers. IU started the second half with two early turnovers and allowed the Wildcats to go on a 9-0 run for three minutes of the third quarter.
Senior guard Jaelyn Penn attempted to get IU back on track in her first game in nearly three weeks, after injuring her ankle against Maryland on Jan. 4. Penn sank the first 3-pointer in the game, closing what was a 13-point lead earlier in the quarter to a 7-point lead.
“I felt good in the game,” Penn said. “I was just trying to get reps. It is more mental coming off an injury and playing, but I felt good today.”
Northwestern was able to hold on to the advantage and ended the third quarter 54-48.
IU continued to chip away at Northwestern’s lead and ended up taking over in the last quarter. Senior guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary tied the game 56-56 with a 3-pointer with just under eight minutes remaining. The Hoosiers’ defense caused four Wildcat turnovers and held them to only seven points in the fourth quarter.
“We felt like we owed them,” Penn said about Northwestern. “Last [time] we came down here and they beat us by 20. That never left our heads. We wanted to come out here and beat them on their own court.”
IU ended the game on a 22-5 run, largely due to Holmes’ ability to finally penetrate Northwestern's post defense and make baskets. Holmes led IU with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Although Northwestern had control of the game for 26 minutes, IU ended with a 74-61 win.
“I keep telling everybody that we are a veteran team, and I thought that shined through this afternoon with the way we finished the game,” Moren said.