The story of No. 7 Indiana women’s basketball’s win against Illinois is not a long one. A quick glance at the final score, 93-61, let alone the full box score, will tell you all you need to know about what happened.
Still, we are going to talk about it.
Something just felt off about this game, like visiting an empty rest stop in the middle of nowhere on a long road trip. The vibes were off from the start.
The Hoosiers entered this game with a single Big Ten loss while the Illini entered with just one conference win. This game was never going to be normal, win or lose.
Lo and behold, Indiana scored 54 points in the first half alone. That is more than its defense allowed in full games against Norfolk State University, the University of Miami, the University of Southern Illinois, Penn State and Wisconsin.
And how did Indiana get those points? Well, a plurality of them came from graduate student guard Ali Patberg. She scored 21 in the first half alone, which surpassed her previous season high in a full game.
Patberg shot 3-6 on 3-pointers in the first half alone. For comparison’s sake, that’s more successful shots from deep for Patberg than she had in all but one full game this season.
But that wasn’t all. There’s still 33 more points — which would have been a respectable half in of itself — to account for. Lucky for Indiana, the Hoosiers were able to spread the ball out and get others aside from Patberg involved.
Senior forward Aleksa Gulbe has established herself as a more of a scorer in the absence of junior forward Mackenzie Holmes, who is out with an undisclosed knee injury. Gulbe contributed 12 points, mostly working on the interior.
Patberg and Gulbe were the only two players who scored in the double-digits for the Hoosiers in the first half. The remaining 21 points not scored by those two were scattered among Indiana’s guards and sophomore forward Kiandra Browne.
Do you happen to have a coin around? Flip it: I call heads. Tails? Bummer, but the result doesn’t matter. Indiana still had a better chance of scoring in the first half, shooting 59% from the field.
Frankly, this felt bad. Even when poor Illinois was able to get a shot up, it ended with an airball, a brick, or with the ball tantalizingly swirling around the rim a few times before slinking into the waiting hands of whichever Hoosier happened to be standing under it.
But don’t feel too bad. Things got a bit better for Illinois in the second half. The Illini managed to score 37 points in the final two quarters, but they allowed the Hoosiers to score 39 in the process.
The third quarter was a relatively close affair. Indiana outscored Illinois 19-15, which would have been significant had the first half of basketball not counted. But alas, Illinois began the second half in a 30-point hole.
It was a hole the Illini just kept digging as the game stretched into the fourth quarter. Illinois was finally scoring, but that was largely due to Indiana sending in its bench unit, which ultimately made short work of the Illini defense.
I’m not quite sure how to finish this column, but that feels fitting. This game was over before it even really began.