After its 96-91 loss to Iowa on Saturday, Indiana women’s basketball dropped to No. 10 in the AP Top 25. Iowa moved up one spot to No. 21.
The two teams faced off again Monday night, each looking to prove themselves in different ways. Indiana wanted a comeback win. Iowa wanted to get another top-10 upset. Only one team got what it wanted, and it wasn’t Indiana.
Iowa beat Indiana 88-82 Monday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa, to hand Indiana its third loss in four games.
“It sucks, obviously,” senior guard Grace Berger said. “Losing the past three out of four games, it sucks.”
In what was a considerably more competitive and energetic showing from the Hoosiers, they controlled the lead for almost 26 minutes of game time and entered halftime leading 52-41. However, the Hoosiers couldn’t capitalize off a 29-point second quarter and were outscored 21-14 and 26-16 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
In addition to a slowed-down offense, Indiana quickly ran into foul trouble as the clock ran down. Entering the fourth quarter, junior forward Mackenzie Holmes and graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary both had three personal fouls. Sophomore forward Kiandra Browne had four. All three fouled out.
“It made it tough for us to get into a flow,” Holmes said. “That made a big difference in the momentum of the game. But we have to learn to play through that.”
Browne and Holmes struggled against Iowa’s senior forward/center Monika Czinano, who led all scoring with 31 points. She scored 13 of Iowa’s 26 fourth-quarter points, and she was a vital factor in both Indiana forwards fouling out.
“The fact that she can get down, she can get you so deep, is a problem inside the halo,” head coach Teri Moren said of Czinano. “There’s not a whole lot you can do because of her length and how accurate she is at the rim.”
Cardaño-Hillary, in turn, struggled to guard sophomore guard Caitlin Clark as the game continued as well. The two were equally aggressive with each other, both recording four fouls up until midway through the fourth quarter. Cardaño-Hillary eventually fouled out in an attempt to regain possession of the ball.
“Nikki did a great job,” Moren said. “(Caitlin) is able to initiate a lot of contact, and because of that Nikki found herself in foul trouble.”
Indiana finished with 27 personal fouls to Iowa’s 19.
“The foul count tonight was a problem for us,” head coach Teri Moren said. “For Caitlin Clark to be able to initiate 11 fouls is crazy. This game is physical, we’re physical, the game was physical, but it just seemed like the foul count got a little out of whack.”
Indiana shot 46% from field goal range and 25% from beyond the arc, aided by three 3-pointers from sophomore guard Chloe Moore-McNeil. However, Clark had a more classic performance Monday night, surpassing her scoring average with 29 points.
Both teams were able to adjust from Saturday’s game in different ways, despite the less-than-48-hour time margin between the two games. Moren said Holmes has not even been able to meet with the strength and conditioning coach since returning to the floor due to the Hoosiers’ busy schedule.
“We were just watching a lot of film (of) the first game,” Berger said. “(We were able to) get on the court a little bit, work on a lot of things defensively and some things offensively. But it was a lot of film.”
Indiana’s loss moves the team to fifth place in the Big Ten standings with an 11-4 record. The top team in the Big Ten is currently Michigan with a 12-3 record. In the final week of regular-season play, the standings change with every game played, and a regular-season champion likely won’t be determined until Sunday.
Indiana’s final game of the regular season is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday at College Park, Maryland, against No. 13 Maryland. Maryland is currently third in the Big Ten with a 12-4 record.