IU women’s basketball won 58-50 against Illinois, but it was not a clean sweep as both teams took turns controlling the game defensively.
What was looking like another 20 plus point win over the Fighting Illini in the first half of solid defensive play by the Hoosiers, a defensively demanding Illinois team struck down a 13-point halftime lead in the second half.
It was difficult for Illinois to find momentum as it struggled to keep the ball under its control while giving IU plenty of chances at the free-throw line. By halftime, the Illini doubled the Hoosiers nine personal fouls with 18, constantly sending the Hoosiers to the line.
“I don’t wanna complain about being at the free-throw line,” head coach Teri Moren said. “As a matter of fact, that is probably what got us our lead, but any time there is disruption at the rate that it seemed like the game was being called for fouls, it’s really hard to have any kind of flow or pace to the game.”
IU’s 80% free-throw shooting in the first half gifted them a comfortable 34-21 lead by halftime.
To add to Illinois’ defensive hardships, the team also added 16 turnovers in the second half, with 12 from the second quarter alone. IU’s aggressiveness on the defensive side gave them 20 points off these turnovers. Senior guard Ali Patberg credited forcing these turnovers to simply being in the right spot on the court.
“Defensively, we always come in prepared,” Patberg said. “Our coaches always have us ready for their plays and their personnel, and we were where we were supposed to be.”
Although IU was prepared defensively in the first half, control of the game shifted to Illinois in the second half. The Illini cleaned up their fouling, only drawing seven personal fouls in the second half, stripping the Hoosiers of the free points they were given earlier in the first half.
Illinois’ late energy also allowed the team to beat IU on defensive rebounds. In the third quarter, Illinois had 12 defensive rebounds while IU only had eight. In the final quarter, Illinois still managed to beat IU by one defensive rebound as it accounted for nine to IU’s eight.
Aside from Illinois’ attentiveness to tracking down the ball from the rim, its hard press on Holmes down low made it difficult for Holmes to make any layups fall, which contributed to IU’s worst shooting percentage of the game at 20% in the third quarter.
Illinois junior center Eva Rubin was mainly responsible for Holmes’ struggles, with Rubin stopping Holmes from finishing three put-backs in one possession. With this pressure from Rubin, Holmes shot 0-10 from the field in the second half alone and 1-16 for the entire game.
Moren credited Illinois’ defense to Holmes’ downfall, but she also thinks it was an off day for her forward overall, who she said was apologetic at every timeout because she knew she was struggling.
Holmes’ offensive play affected her defense since she was overthinking and uncharacteristically missing coverage on her post, Moren said.
Although it was a messy game for both teams, the Hoosiers made enough plays to defeat the Illini 58-50.
“But nonetheless it is a win,” Moren said. “Two weeks from now, no one will care how we played here, and it will just show up as a win. As I mentioned, they aren’t always pretty.”