Indiana Daily Student

After first half deficit, No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball uses third quarter to surge past Penn State

<p>Junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil awaits a pass Dec. 1, 2022, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana defeated Penn State 67-58, making this its tenth consecutive win.</p>

Junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil awaits a pass Dec. 1, 2022, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana defeated Penn State 67-58, making this its tenth consecutive win.

For the second game in a row, No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball let an unranked Big Ten opponent hang around and threaten to upset its perfect record. However, just as they did against Illinois on Sunday, the Hoosiers rallied late to scrape out a 67-58 victory over Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.

Indiana struggled in the first half, particularly with taking care of the ball, and entered the break down 29-26 — its first halftime deficit so far this season.

[Related: Turnovers nag No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball despite 67-58 win over Penn State]

"Well they’re not always pretty. We’ve had a few of those — not a lot of them but several of them — and it was no different tonight,” head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “Give Penn State credit, they came out and won the first half of this game, but I thought our guys turned around in the second half and responded in the right kind of way.”

Despite scoring just 26 first half points, the Hoosiers came out and scored 22 points in the third quarter alone — with junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil scoring seven points and assisting on a 3-pointer from junior guard Sydney Parrish in the frame.

That Parrish triple gave Indiana its first lead since the start of the second quarter and helped spark a 25-6 run, which lasted from seven and a half minutes left in the third quarter to seven and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter. The run gave Indiana a double-digit margin which it was able to protect across the final minutes of the game to secure the win.

Moren said the frequent turnovers in the first half prevented the offense from establishing any sort of rhythm or consistency.

“I thought in the second half our flow was better," Moren said. "We took better care of the ball. We stopped trying to push the pace on offense in the second half.”

Coming into the game, Moren and Indiana understood that slowing down Nittany Lion star senior guard Makenna Marisa would be vital to the Hoosiers’ success. Although she was inefficient, Marisa went into the locker room at halftime as the game’s leading scorer but in the second half, she was held to just three points, primarily thanks to the defense of Moore-McNeil.

[Related: COLUMN: It was a tale of two halves, but Indiana women’s basketball had a happy ending]

“We didn't play how we needed to play,” Moore-McNeil said about the first half. “The coaching staff gave us a great scouting report and I would say defensively, we didn't really follow that the first half.”

After the game, Moren praised Moore-McNeil both for shutting down Marisa defensively and for running the offense on the other side of the ball. Since graduate student guard Grace Berger got injured in Indiana’s Nov. 25 matchup against Auburn University, Moore-McNeil has stepped into the role of the team’s primary ball handler.

“She's done a great job for us, and I thought tonight she did another really great job,” Moren said. “It might not be on the offensive side — she had the task of guarding Marisa for almost the entire game and I thought Chloe was really locked in and did a great job. (Marisa)'s a fantastic player, it's hard to keep her quiet but I thought Chloe did a great job — but running our team I think Chloe has shown great maturity.”

While her teammates struggled with turnovers throughout the night, Moore-McNeil finished with just one to go along with her 11 points and game-high seven assists. Many of her passes went down low to senior forward Mackenzie Holmes, who finished with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double.

With the win, Indiana improves to 10-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Big Ten. The team will take a 10-day break for finals week before returning at 2 p.m. Dec. 18 against Morehead State University in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Sebree (@mattsebree) and columnist Matt Press (@MattPress23) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s basketball season.

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