Indiana women’s basketball beat Michigan State 76-58 on Saturday to extend its win streak to four games and to remain the only team in the Big Ten with one in-conference loss.
“I could go through every one of them and they gave us something,” head coach Teri Moren said.. “Give our kids credit for showing up in a big kind of way and getting a big win today.”
The Hoosiers as a whole, and individually, saw multiple season and career highs. They were led by senior guard Grace Berger. Berger had a career-high 29 points and went 11-11 from the free throw line and 9-17 from the field.
17 of Berger’s points came in the third quarter, where she alone outscored the entire Michigan State roster 17-14. The third quarter was the tipping point for the Hoosiers, as they entered the second half with more motivation and energy that carried out throughout the rest of the game.
Indiana’s 30-point third quarter marked its best single-quarter performance of the season, surpassing its 28-point first quarter against Illinois on Feb. 9.
“A big emphasis was just getting stops and running, getting easy scores in transition to get us going,” graduate student Ali Patberg said about the change in play between the two halves. “That’s what we did. We hit shots, we pushed the pace.”
Michigan State quickly fell into foul trouble in the first half. Two of Michigan State’s best scorers were already in foul trouble entering the third quarter, putting some limitations on what they could do on both ends of the court. Michigan State finished with 20 personal fouls and two technical fouls. Indiana scored 21 points off of free throws alone.
A major part in Indiana’s success came from its defense, who worked as a unit to prevent Michigan State from finding momentum and held senior guard Nia Clouden to 10 points. Clouden, who entered the game leading Michigan State in scoring with 21.3 points per game, shot 3-12 in the game.
“We knew she was going to score, she was going to hit tough shots,” Patberg said. “We just wanted to make it hard on her, make it difficult, and that’s what we did.”
Patberg and graduate student Nicole Cardaño-Hillary were two of the best defenders put up against Clouden, who both also scored 12 points. Cardaño-Hillary led Indiana with three 3-pointers, shooting 50% from beyond the arc and had two steals.
Senior forward Aleksa Gulbe also contributed on both ends of the floor, putting up three blocks, six rebounds and 13 points. Gulbe was one of five Hoosiers to score double digits. Sophomore guard Chloe Moore-McNeil was the only bench player to hit double digits, scoring all 10 of Indiana’s bench points.
“Really what Chloe has always helped us with is defensively just because of how athletic she is,” Berger said. “Whether she’s hitting shots or not, she’s a tremendous spark off the bench.”
Junior forward Mackenzie Holmes participated in warmups and was dressed in uniform before the game, but did not have any playing time. Berger said the recurring message amongst the team is that everyone needs to step up to replace Holmes.
“It’s just all of us doing a little bit more,” Berger said. “It shows how much depth we have and how good of players we have on our team.”
Holmes’ return date is still unknown, but Moren said after Illinois she believes Holmes will be back sooner rather than later. Indiana’s next matchup is at 7 p.m. on Monday in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Indiana beat Nebraska 72-65 on Jan. 13, which was the first game Holmes missed due to her knee injury. A return on Monday could be the perfect story arc for Holmes, and Indiana as a whole.