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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

Patberg, Warthen say potential goodbye to Assembly Hall in 74-59 Senior Day win over Purdue

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After playing all but two minutes and 20 seconds of what could be her last game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, senior guard Ali Patberg came off the floor for the final 53 seconds after a dead ball. She and senior guard Keyanna Warthen were substituted out and received a brief ovation, potentially stepping off their homecourt for the last time in their college careers. 

They returned to the bench awaiting emotional embraces with their teammates and coaches. Moments later, No. 10 IU women’s basketball dribbled out the game clock to conclude its regular season with a 74-59 Senior Day win over in-state rival Purdue on Saturday. 

“I’m happy for our team, I’m happy for Key, I’m happy for Ali that we can celebrate Senior Night and they’ll always look back and know that they won this game,” head coach Teri Moren said. “It was kind of a grind-it-out sort of day for us.”

The Hoosiers had difficulty gaining much of an edge on the Boilermakers from the opening tip, as did Patberg finding her rhythm in the offense early on.

The Columbus, Indiana, native’s first attempt from the field was a floater off the glass that was all but in before slowly rimming out. Patberg connected on just one of her first six shots and even had trouble facilitating IU’s offense. On consecutive baseline drives from the right corner, Patberg turned the ball over trying to force entry passes to junior guard Grace Berger.

Patberg turned her sluggish start around to finish with 8 points, five rebounds and three assists. It was far from her best outing on the court, but Moren said Patberg’s influence on her team goes way beyond her stat line.

“Everything,” Moren said when asked what Patberg has meant to the program in her time at IU. “Ali Patberg is a person that makes everyone around her better, and not just her peers, she makes her coaches better as well.”

Moren says that since transferring from University of Notre Dame, Patberg has delivered on every promise she made when getting recruited to play for her. She’s embodied the gym-rat spirit and mentality that there’s always more work to be done, pushing the Hoosiers to an all-time high AP Top 25 ranking and a program record 16 Big Ten wins. 

It’s the same mindset that motivates reserves like Warthen to give it their best when their number is called and they’re shoved into the game on short notice. She played just nine minutes Saturday and was tasked with guarding Purdue’s best perimeter player the length of the floor, what has become a speciality for Warthen these last few seasons.

“I started taking advantage of that,” Warthen said Friday. “And then my teammates, they felt like I could defend well, so they gave me a lot of confidence on that end of the floor."

After having her first two shot attempts blocked by the Boilermakers, Warthen was left all alone on the left wing where she received a cross-court pass from Berger. The senior from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, rose up and drained the 3-pointer to give the Hoosiers a 51-44 lead.

Instead of cracking a smile or celebrating, however, Warthen quickly shifted her focus back to defense and picked up her assignment underneath the basket.

Patberg and Warthen have the opportunity to return next season with the NCAA’s COVID-19 waiver granting athletes an extra year of eligibility, but IU’s senior guards have yet to make their minds up on that decision. 

Between celebrating the 2018 WNIT Championship and becoming best friends after three years as roommates, Patberg and Warthen have been through it all together. Regardless of Saturday’s game being their Assembly Hall swan song, they know the program is in a better place because of their loyalty, leadership and hard work over the years.

“I was just so happy to be a part of a team, be a part of a program that I truly love,” Patberg said Friday. “I take a lot of joy in seeing other people do well, but just being here has been a blessing. I love it, everything about it.”

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