No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball extended multiple streaks with its decisive 76-53 win over Wisconsin on Wednesday at Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin. With the win, Indiana is now on a seven-game win streak and 4-0 in Big Ten play, matching the program’s best-ever conference start.
“This is a great win,” head coach Teri Moren said. “Any time you can win on the road in a very quiet atmosphere where we had to bring our own energy, that’s a good day for us.”
Four of Indiana’s starters finished with double-digit points. Senior guard Grace Berger, the lone starter who didn’t have a double-digit scoring total, finished with 9 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.
Despite a flat first-quarter start against Wisconsin, Indiana found its energy and rhythm to gain a comfortable lead over Wisconsin, which at one point grew to 27 points.
“We had to certainly bring our own energy,” Moren said. “We got off to kind of a sluggish, slow start and then we kind of picked up the pace and then kind of got back into a lull.”
The Hoosiers gave up 8 unanswered points in the first quarter, but stormed back quickly to go on a 13-2 run and finish the quarter ahead 17-12. They only allowed 9 Badger points in the second quarter on their way to a 36-21 halftime lead.
Graduate student Ali Patberg was largely responsible for creating and maintaining Indiana’s lead, scoring 7 points in the first quarter and a game-high 18 total. Patberg shot 4-5 from beyond the arc, and went a perfect 5-5 from the field until the fourth quarter.
“We just came in focused on getting this win,” Patberg said. “We just gave it all we had and we got it, we got a win.”
Indiana led by double digits from halftime onward, but ran into some trouble in the third quarter when its defense faltered and gave up 21 points in the period to Wisconsin.
“Our focus waned a little,” Patberg said. “We kind of allowed our focus to go down defensively, but we picked it back up at the end of the third and going into the fourth. It’s always on the defensive end that we make our runs.”
Junior forward Mackenzie Holmes kept Indiana’s momentum going with 10 points in the third quarter alone. Holmes, who was named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 on Wednesday, finished the game with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Indiana’s defense found its rhythm again in the closing stages of the game, only allowing Wisconsin to score 11 points in the fourth quarter, which finished with a 36% shooting mark.
Moren said she set a goal for Indiana to give up no more than 60 points in a single game this season. So far, no team has scored more than 70 points against Indiana.
“Our goal is to score 80 and to limit teams to 60,” Moren said. “We’re not hitting our offensive benchmark yet, but we are certainly doing that on the defensive end.”
Patberg credited much of Indiana’s defensive success to the strategies put in place by the coaching staff, and said the team watches a lot of film and knows what to expect entering every game.
“It’s our job to go out and execute,” Patberg said. “It’s our focus, our attention to details on the defensive end. I know that’s why it makes us so good on defense.”
Indiana will look to move to 5-0 in conference play and set a new program record when it travels back to Bloomington to face Nebraska at 6 p.m. on Jan. 13. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.