In a rematch of their Jan. 13 meeting, Nebraska defeated No. 5 Indiana women’s basketball 72-55 on Monday in Lincoln, Nebraska. Indiana trailed throughout and was never able to meaningly threaten Nebraska’s lead after the first half.
In the first few minutes of the game, Indiana went on an 8-0 run, but Nebraska immediately responded with an 8-0 run of their own to take back the lead. Indiana kept the game close through the rest of the first quarter and into the second quarter, but another 8-0 run gave Nebraska the lead going into halftime.
The Hoosiers were never able to cut the deficit to one possession throughout the second half, which allowed the Cornhuskers to pull away and control the tempo late.
While Indiana performed well offensively in the first and third quarters, it struggled to close out each half. The team scored only 8 points in both the second and fourth quarter, which Nebraska took advantage of to put the game away.
The Hoosiers struggled shooting the ball from all areas on the court. They shot 32% from the field, 9% from 3-point range and 54% from the free-throw line — marks all significantly lower than the team’s season averages.
“We had some good looks, they just didn't go down,” head coach Teri Moren said. “Unfortunately you have those nights, but we really needed our defense to be great for us.”
Indiana is in the midst of a two-week stretch without much time off between games and, as a result, the players and coaches must manage fatigue to be prepared and well-rested for the grind of the Big Ten schedule. Berger said she believes the difficult scheduling will help Indiana later in the postseason.
Berger said the situation with condensed scheduling as a result of games which were rescheduled due to issues with COVID-19 protocols is similar to the nature of the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, while Moren admitted that fatigue could have played a factor on Monday.
“Nobody is doing us any favors right now,” Moren said. “We’ve got another two-day prep and then Northwestern, and then a one-day prep for Iowa. So not the best-case scenario for us.”
Moren said she does not want to use exhaustion as an excuse for any losses, however, and she believes the Hoosiers should be able to win regardless of how little rest the players have had.
“We’re competitors, they’re young people, they should be able to do this every other night,” Moren said. “It’s not (like) the NBA schedule, but my feeling is that (if) they got 24 hours in between (games), they should be ready to go.”
While Indiana as a whole struggled, senior guard Grace Berger again stood out. She was named Big Ten Player of the Week for her play last week and scored a game-high 20 points. Graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary and senior forward Aleksa Gulbe were the only other Indiana players in double figures with 10 points apiece.
Monday’s loss drops Indiana’s record to 18-4 overall and 10-2 in conference play. Despite the loss, Indiana is still the leader in the Big Ten standings going into the final stretch of the regular season.
“Disappointed for sure, but we have to lick our wounds quickly, get back home and get ready for Northwestern,” Moren said.
Indiana returns home for its next game, a matchup with Northwestern. The game tips off at 6 p.m. Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.