IU women’s basketball is eager to start NCAA Tournament play after a longer break than anticipated following its 69-61 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. Now, No. 4 IU will try to redeem itself in its first NCAA Tournament game against No. 13 seed Virginia Commonwealth University at 2 p.m. Monday.
Head coach Teri Moren and senior guard Ali Patberg emphasized that they are ready to play, they want to play now and the Michigan State loss, while disheartening, made them hungrier for an NCAA title run.
“I keep telling them there are no do-overs,” Moren said. “We don’t get to do this again.”
This motivated mentality will be key for their first game against VCU, who won the Atlantic 10 Conference championship game last Sunday after beating University of Massachusetts Amherst 81-69. With the Rams coming into the matchup on a four-game win streak and champion high, the Hoosiers can’t let their guard down.
“When we get into practice or go into the film room, there has to be a little extra level of focus, effort, everything because we don’t want to be sent home,” Patberg said. “The other day coach said it’s okay to play with desperation knowing that we have to leave it all out there every game or else we aren’t going to be here.”
IU averages about 10 more points per game than VCU and has a better field goal percentage at 46% compared to VCU’s 39%. Senior guard Taya Robinson leads VCU with 14.7 points per game and has its second highest 3-point shooting percentage at 35%. Freshman guard Sara Te-Biasu leads the Rams in 3-point shooting with a solid 38% from behind the arc.
“We have to go in and be far greater than we were against Michigan State in terms of limiting their shots from the outside, understanding who the hot shooters are, but also understanding the tendencies of what the other pieces want to do,” Moren said.
This matchup will only be the third time IU has played VCU, with the last meeting dating back to December 2004 when IU took a 63-41 victory. Moren has never faced VCU since taking over at IU in 2014, but she said she feels her team is ready for their opponent.
“We have to be who we are,” Moren said. “We hang our hat on the defensive end, and I feel like our preparation has gone very well this week. We have a sense of what we have to do.”
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. Monday at the University of Texas at San Antonio Convocation Center in San Antonio. The game will broadcast on ESPNU.