No. 10 IU women’s basketball ended its 2020-21 season with a 74-59 win over Purdue in the Barn Burner Trophy game on Saturday afternoon. The Hoosiers finished with a record of 16-2 in the Big Ten and 18-4 overall.
“The record means a lot just because of the challenges that we have had to endure this entire season,” head coach Teri Moren said. “It will be a season that we won't forget for a lot of reasons, but I like to think on the positive side that it’s going to be one that we remember because of the amount of wins we were able to get this season with this group.”
A 3-pointer from senior guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary put the Hoosiers up 3-0 in the first seconds of the game, but the Boilermakers shot 70% from the field early in the first quarter, which shut down any chance the Hoosiers had to pull away.
Despite a late steal by sophomore center Hannah Noveroske which led to a 3-point possession from junior forward Aleksa Gulbe, the first quarter ended tied at 17-17. Moren said her team struggled offensively in the first parts of the game because it put up ill-advised shots and struggled on the free-throw line, which added to the early challenge of taking control of the game for IU.
“It seemed like offensively this was not our finest 40 minutes,” Moren said.
In the second quarter, Gulbe sank her first three of the game to put IU up 22-19, but IU opened the door for Purdue with a nearly four-minute scoring drought. However, the Boilermakers’ failed to capitalize on the opportunity, shooting just 28% in the second quarter.
Unlike Purdue, IU was able to benefit from an offensive dry spell of its opponent, going on a 6-0 run for almost two minutes to put IU up 32-27. Cardaño-Hillary’s buzzer-beating jumper rounded out the half for the Hoosiers, who led 34-29 at halftime.
The Hoosiers came out of the half firing on offense with another early 3-pointer from Cardaño-Hillary. A 3-pointer for senior guard Keyanna Warthen had the IU bench on its feet and extended IU’s lead to 51-44.
Despite sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes contributing 11 points in the third quarter alone, a sloppy pass from Gulbe gave Purdue the last shot of the third quarter, which cut IU’s lead to 53-51.
Holmes’ ability to perform on the boards is a sure sign of Holmes’ preseason efforts to up her stamina, Moren said.
“I go back to her endurance where she can just outlast a lot of fives because of her commitment to run the floor,” Moren said. “She puts a lot of pressure on other team’s fives because of her willingness to do that.”
The Hoosiers took over in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Boilermakers 21-8 with 11 points coming from Holmes. IU went on a 8-0 run for just under three minutes, and five turnovers from Purdue helped IU pull away. IU scored 11 points off of opponent turnovers in the second half and 18 overall.
“As a team we decided it was time to lock down,” Cardaño-Hillary said. “We did the little things. We kept them in front of us, and I think that was a very big momentum change.”
Holmes led IU with 26 points and nine rebounds, both team highs.
The Hoosiers plan to carry this team momentum into the Big Ten Tournament next week, and the team’s bond is something Cardaño-Hillary puts faith in, she said.
“Our chemistry not only with the post but as a team is very strong,” Cardaño-Hillary said. “That will help us in the long run. We have been playing really well together, and we hope to keep that going.”