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Friday, Dec. 1
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

COLUMN: Butler’s “Leave Nicole Cardaño-Hillary open” strategy helps IU women’s basketball

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Bloomington residents, IU students and basketball fans can rely on a few things to be open when they need them. The Denny’s on Walnut Street, *some* gas stations…

Oh, and Indiana women’s basketball graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary.

While the rest of the team was cold from 3-point range, making just one of 18 attempts, Cardaño-Hillary was there. Mind you, Butler University asked for that with its strategy of staying as distanced from her as possible.

“She obviously was somebody we could count on offensively,” head coach Teri Moren said in a postgame press conference.

Cardaño-Hillary torched Butler’s defense, making seven of her eight 3-pointer attempts against the Bulldogs in the 86-63 win Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. 

Between 3-pointers and layups, Cardaño-Hillary also dealt the ball out to her teammates. She finished the game second in assists for Indiana with five.

“The shots were feeling good, and they were falling,” Cardaño-Hillary said.

Cardaño-Hillary was first to touch the ball after Indiana won the opening tip but gave it right to Butler on a questionable pass intercepted by freshman forward Alex Richard. 

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IU graduate guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary dribbles down the court during the game against Butler University on Nov. 10, 2021, at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Cardaño-Hillary made 10 of her 11 field goal attempts against Butler on Wednesday. Ethan Levy

Not to worry for Indiana, as its first 3-pointer of the game was promptly knocked down by… junior forward Mackenzie Holmes? That shot ended up as the sole non-Cardaño-Hillary 3-pointer of the night.

Indiana would attempt three more 3-pointers before Cardaño-Hillary was given her first opportunity early in the second quarter. The shot served as an answer to Butler, who had just taken the lead. 

It’d be the Bulldogs’ last lead of the night. 

When Butler crept closer with a layup just over a minute later, Cardaño-Hillary was there. She plucked a defensive rebound out of the air and found graduate student guard Ali Patberg on the fast break to extend Indiana’s lead. 

Patberg returned the favor with an assist to Cardaño-Hillary, who drove into Butler’s paint for a layup. Patberg, who sunk none of her 3-point attempts, found other ways to contribute to Indiana’s win. Of Cardaño-Hillary’s seven 3-pointers, five came off of Patberg’s assists.

“She’s a great example for all of our team,” head coach Teri Moren said of Patberg.

Cardaño-Hillary had the hot hand, and Moren knew it at that point. 

“We’ve gotta keep feeding her,” Moren said. “I thought she was terrific, obviously, outside the arc.”

And feed her they did. Cardaño-Hillary took advantage of a soft Butler defense and pristine passes from Patberg on open looks to finish leading the team in points with 29. 

My main takeaway from this game? Well, it’ll feel nice to visit Hinkle Fieldhouse in-person someday because I know for sure someone will hold the door wide open as I enter.

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