No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball has repeatedly proven it can survive adversity thrown its way. In Thursday’s 67-58 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Hoosiers showed they can come away victorious even when their misfortune is self-inflicted.
Indiana committed 17 turnovers, its second most this season thus far, including nine in the first quarter — a season-high for a single quarter. Penn State’s pressure defensively heavily impacted the Hoosiers’ offense, which allowed the Nittany Lions to enter halftime ahead 29-26.
“We just turned the thing over too much and couldn’t get any good flow,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “The turnovers were a little bit of a disappointment.”
Penn State’s full-court pressure was expected by Indiana, but the Nittany Lions were still able to wreak havoc. If the Hoosiers were able to advance the ball past halfcourt, which seemed seldom in the first quarter, the Nittany Lions set a plethora of zones and traps to cause disruption.
“I was trying to make homerun plays and I think we put each other in bad scenarios,” Moren said. “A lot of it was on us and our poor decisions.”
The Nittany Lions pounced on the Hoosiers' mistakes. Twelve of Penn State’s 29 first-half points came off Indiana turnovers. Shooting a measly 32.4% from the field in the first 20 minutes, Penn State’s best offense was its defense.
As Indiana graduate guard Grace Berger continues to nurse a knee injury, her absence as the Hoosiers’ primary ball handler was sorely missed. While junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil has excelled in said role — continuing to do so with seven assists to one turnover Thursday — it was the newcomers who experienced growing pains against Penn State.
Freshman and junior guards Yarden Garzon and Sydney Parrish accounted for nine of Indiana’s 12 first-half turnovers. Each player handled their share of the ball well prior to tonight, and Moren seemed unfazed by the poor performances.
“Yarden made some uncharacteristic decisions with the ball and some of those were charges for Syd,” Moren said. “I thought they (collectively) did a better job in the second half.”
Indiana’s third quarter performance became the team’s outlier in a positive way. The Hoosiers came out of halftime composed and confident — a stark contrast to the first half. The turnover-less 10-minute period out of the break allowed Indiana to surge ahead and regain its lead, which it never surrendered afterward.
The Hoosiers reverted to their careless ways in the fourth quarter with five more giveaways, but the damage had already been done. Indiana escaped University Park with a 9-point win despite one of its sloppiest performances of the season.
Indiana will certainly be displeased from its 17-turnover performance, as the outcome could have been far worse against a superior opponent. In a battle between offensive maestros and chaos creators, the two sides balanced each other out.
The Hoosiers entered Thursday’s contest averaging 11 turnovers per game, good for fifth in the NCAA. Contrarily, Penn State came in forcing 23.44 turnovers per game, 18th in the country. Naturally, each squad’s elite specialties met in the middle.
Looking forward, Indiana will have time to rest before a quick escape from Big Ten play against Morehead State University on Dec. 18. The Hoosiers were able to earn the victory on the road, but they will want to resolve any turnover issues before the bulk of conference play.