Throughout the early season, No. 11 Indiana women’s basketball head coach Teri Moren has repeatedly emphasized how important stout defense is to the team’s identity. Moren said she makes this clear to every recruit and transfer interested in joining the Hoosiers
“They knew when they decided to come and be a part of us that we have always and will always hang our hat on the defensive side of the ball,” Moren said after Tuesday’s win over the University of Vermont.
However, despite the blowout, Moren said she felt those newcomers could have better executed their defensive assignments.
“We certainly have some work to do defensively especially with some of our new our new faces that are trying to understand our defensive system — there were a few slippages in there, rotations missed,” Moren said. “We’ve just got to keep doing what we're doing and that's spending time in practice and just making sure that they're where they need to be inside of our defensive, not just principles, but system.”
Thanks to strong defensive play on Friday, Indiana defeated the University of Massachusetts Lowell 93-37.
Following the win, Moren said the new players improved defensively but she still thinks they aren’t playing to their potential.
“There were moments where there was a little bit of frustration over there on the bench,” Moren said. "One of the things we talked about — especially with a team like UMass Lowell who was playing clean — we didn't want to bail them out. We didn't want to put them at the free-throw line.”
Moren said Indiana was regularly beaten when UMass Lowell drove to the hoop and forced Hoosier players to defend in one-on-one situations without fouling. Too often, Moren said, these situations ended with an Indiana foul and UMass Lowell taking shots from the charity stripe.
Senior guard Sara Scalia — one of those newcomers as a transfer from Minnesota — said she knew getting better on the defensive side of the ball would be very important on her new team.
“Coming in here, I knew that this is a very defensive team just from playing against them,” Scalia said. “So, I knew I had to improve definitely defensively when I got here, but I would say I've gotten a lot better.”
Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes, who was sitting next to Scalia, praised her teammate’s work ethic and everyday commitment to getting better on the less-glamorous side of the ball. For her part in Friday’s win, Holmes contributed a game-high 17 points as well as two blocks, dissuading the River Hawks from attempting shots in the paint.
In addition to holding the River Hawks to just 37 points, the Hoosiers forced 25 turnovers and made running any offense incredibly difficult for the visitors. With only 13 made field goals, UMass Lowell possessions ended with a turnover nearly twice as often as they ended with a make.
Indiana was incredibly efficient at capitalizing when it forced turnovers. Many of the 16 steals turned into open fast break layups, but even when they didn’t get someone in transition and were forced to run their half-court offense, the Hoosiers had little difficulty scoring. By the final buzzer, Indiana totaled 34 points off turnovers, nearly equaling UMass Lowell’s total scoring output.
Now 2-0 on the season, Indiana travels to Knoxville for its next game, a matchup against No. 5 University of Tennessee at 6 p.m. Monday.
“Tonight, there were a couple (shot clock) violations, which you always get excited about, but we know we're going to have to guard better on Monday night,” Moren said.
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