No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball pushed its winning streak to eight games after it beat Nebraska 72-65 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday.
Indiana played without starting junior forward Mackenzie Holmes, who was out with a knee injury. Holmes leads the team in points and rebounds this season. Sophomore forward Kiandra Browne made the first start of her career against Nebraska in Holmes’ place.
Holmes’ injury left Indiana with nine healthy rostered players against Nebraska after Keyarah Berry parted ways with the team Wednesday. Among those nine, only six players appeared in the game: the four usual starters, Browne and sophomore guard Chloe Moore-McNeil.
A slow start by Indiana allowed Nebraska to jump out to an early lead five minutes into the first quarter. Indiana responded with an 8-0 run in the span of a minute that included three steals, giving the team its first lead. Indiana didn’t find itself behind on the scoreboard the rest of the night.
A 9-2 run by the Cornhuskers in the fourth quarter, coupled with the Hoosiers failing to hit a field goal across the final 3:21, brought the game within 3 points in the final minute. Strong free throw shooting prevented any chance at an upset, however, as the Hoosiers built enough of a lead to seal the game.
Head coach Teri Moren said in a postgame press conference that her players are prepared to handle opponents who might be playing with more motivation because of Indiana’s top-10 ranking.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best, we just expect that,” Moren said. “But these kids are just built different.”
Berger scored a season-high 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds, which led the Hoosiers in both categories. Senior forward Aleksa Gulbe recorded 17 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter, followed by graduate student guard Cardaño-Hillary with 13 points and graduate student guard Ali Patberg with 10 points.
Throughout the season, Indiana’s victories have come from its strong defense, and Thursday was no different. Indiana was able to slow down Nebraska’s fast-paced offense, holding Nebraska well below its averages of over 24 3-pointers attempted and over 82 points per game this season.
“We definitely focus on playing Indiana basketball,” Cardaño-Hillary said. “We’re not focused on what the other team is doing.”
With the win, Indiana moved to 13-2 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten. The 5-0 record is the program’s best conference start in its history.
“We’re the type of team that puts our head down and keeps working,” Cardaño-Hillary said. “Making history is definitely something that you set out to do but we’re not satisfied yet.”
Indiana’s next game is a matchup against Purdue for the Barn Burner Trophy. The game will tip-off at 2 p.m. Sunday in West Lafayette, Indiana.