Indiana Daily Student

No. 11 IU women’s basketball looks for redemption against No. 15 Ohio State

Junior guard Grace Berger drives to the basket Jan. 28 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. No. 11 IU will play No. 15 Ohio State at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Junior guard Grace Berger drives to the basket Jan. 28 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. No. 11 IU will play No. 15 Ohio State at 3 p.m. Saturday.

IU women’s basketball has not lost a game since Jan. 28 when it fell to Ohio State 78-70 on its home court. The Hoosiers have a chance at redemption against the Buckeyes Saturday in their second meeting of the season at 3 p.m. at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio. The game will be televised on Big Ten Network. 

Having lost the last 15 matchups against Ohio State, IU’s last loss against the fierce Big Ten opponent was one of the most disappointing losses in head coach Teri Moren’s career at IU, she said in a press conference. The Hoosiers blew an 11-0 lead in the first quarter and let the Buckeyes add another win to their record.  

Moren chalked the loss up to mishandling Ohio State’s zone defense in the fourth quarter, which is something IU will attempt to improve on Saturday, she said.

Related: [No. 16 IU women’s basketball ends winning streak with 78-70 loss to No. 14 Ohio State]

“We have to be more confident when we see zone because we are going to see it,” Moren said. “I didn’t think that we really embraced the opportunity in the fourth. We knew it was going to come at some point in that game because we had talked about it, and I just didn’t think we responded in the fashion that I would like to have seen us.” 

The zone defense pressured IU to take ill advised shots and deterred them from feeding sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes, who was a strong offensive presence in this game, the ball down low.

“The lesson that we learned after Ohio State was one in offensive efficiency and understanding if our long ball is not going down, if our shots aren’t falling from inside the arc or outside the arc, we have to do a much better job of having a mindset that we have to get the ball inside,” Moren said. 

Since this loss, the Hoosiers have seen their ranking rise to No. 11 — the highest in program history — after six straight wins, including a big victory against then-No.11 Michigan and a commanding win over Wisconsin. 

In the last meeting, Ohio State was ranked higher at No. 14 with IU at No. 16, but coming off two back-to-back losses against Penn State and Michigan, the Buckeyes are now ranked lower than IU at No.15. 

“One, we are guarding better,” Moren said. “Two, we have been more efficient offensively with Nikki in the line up. It has allowed Ali some freedom to play off the ball and get some better looks. It has also allowed Ali to be more aggressive.”    

Senior guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary has proven her aggressiveness on both ends of the ball since replacing senior guard Jaelynn Penn in the starting lineup. In IU’s last game against Wisconsin, Cardaño-Hillary tied with senior guard Ali Patberg for second-most points in the game at 14. She also added two steals and eight rebounds. 

“I am not surprised because she is the ultimate competitor,” Moren said about Cardaño-Hillary. “I've loved that she has embraced this idea of putting pressure on the ball, of being pesky.”

Cardaño-Hillary forced two more steals in the game against Michigan, an area she seems to be growing confident in and which will be key to shutting down Ohio State sophomore guard and leading scorer Jacy Sheldon or senior guard Braxtin Miller.   

Related: [COLUMN: No. 11 IU’s multi-faceted defense continues to improve each game]

“She ignites our defense just because of her willingness, tenacity and endurance she has for wanting to make point guards uncomfortable,” Moren said. “She is like the Energizer Bunny out there.”

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