Indiana Daily Student

Fourth-quarter drought drowns Indiana women’s basketball in 72-55 loss to Nebraska

<p>Graduate guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary drives by a defender on Dec. 9, 2021, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana will play Northwestern at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 at home. </p>

Graduate guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary drives by a defender on Dec. 9, 2021, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana will play Northwestern at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 at home.

Entering the fourth quarter on Monday night in Lincoln, Nebraska, No. 5 Indiana women’s basketball trailed 52-47. After being behind by 12 points earlier in the third quarter, the team wasn’t completely out of the game. There was still time for the energy and momentum, which had been lacking in the first half, to come back.

The Hoosiers quickly put up the first point of the fourth quarter on a free throw from senior guard Grace Berger. Then they didn’t score for seven minutes. In that time, the Cornhuskers put up 17 points, extending their lead to 69-48.

Berger finally broke Indiana’s scoring drought with a 3-pointer, but with 2:27 left in the game, it barely made a dent. Indiana continued to scramble and only scored 4 more points before Nebraska solidified its 72-55 victory.

“We had to rely on outside shooting and/or just short jump shots, and missed way too many layups,” head coach Teri Moren said. “We had some good looks, they just didn’t go down.”

That fourth quarter wasn’t the only time Indiana scored only 8 points, as the team had the exact same scoring output in the second quarter. The biggest difference between the two quarters, though, was Indiana’s defense which, as the game continued, became less and less effective against a dominant Nebraska offense.

“What Coach Moren just said to us was defense wins games,” Berger said. “We’ve won a lot of games against really good teams where we didn’t hit shots.”

However, Indiana’s offense didn’t go 2-23 from beyond the arc in any of the past games where its defense faltered. Berger and graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary were the only two Hoosiers to hit a 3-pointer, combining for 2-11 on the night. Cardaño-Hillary had 10 total attempts from deep, the most of any player.

Related: [No. 5 Indiana women’s basketball falls to Nebraska 72-55, snaps four-game win streak]

Indiana entered Monday’s game averaging about 15 shots from beyond the arc, and Moren said some of the 3-point attempts toward the end of the fourth quarter were simply rushed shots, which she said didn’t reflect the team’s strategy. Indiana missed six 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the game.

“I’m not counting those,” Moren said. “But outside of the last couple minutes, we just missed shots.”

The first quarter saw missed 3-pointers from both teams, but Nebraska broke through the wall surrounding the basket with a successful shot from sophomore forward Isabelle Bourne in the beginning of the second quarter.

The Cornhuskers went on to score six more 3-pointers on the night and ended the game shooting 7-15 from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Jaz Shelley led the way with three triples, scoring 14 points overall.

Shelley, who was one of the biggest influences in the game, fed off of her home crowd’s energy throughout the night. Nebraska entered the night with only one home loss this season, in large part due to its large crowds, which ranks third in the Big Ten in attendance.

“Nebraska is a difficult place to play, even if you don’t have a number by your name,” Moren said, referencing the added incentive teams have to beat No. 5 Indiana. “Their crowds are terrific. Even on a Monday night, there was great energy in the building on their side for sure.”

Related: [COLUMN: Indiana women’s basketball got a taste of its own medicine against Nebraska]

Indiana is in the midst of a condensed schedule, with six games in less than two weeks. On nights such as Monday’s, Berger said mentality can play a part in Indiana’s performances as well. However, neither Moren nor Berger will accept fatigue or mental blocks as excuses for subpar performances.

“It can become a little mental,” Berger said. “But we can’t make that excuse, we’re a veteran team. So we should be past that at this point.”

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