No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball defeated Minnesota 77-54 on Wednesday in Minneapolis behind a dominating defensive performance. The Hoosiers forced 29 turnovers — 18 of which came in the first half — in the blowout victory.
On Minnesota’s first possession of the game, an airballed layup turned into an offensive rebound in the post, but Indiana’s defense swarmed the paint and forced a pass out of bounds for a turnover. The Hoosiers capitalized on the other end with senior forward Mackenzie Holmes getting an easy look at the rim after shaking her defender with a spin move.
The early sequence turned into a pattern the Hoosiers followed on seemingly every trip down the floor: force a turnover on defense and turn it into points on offense.
Indiana followed that game plan through the first quarter to jump out to a large early lead that Minnesota was never able to come back and threaten. In the first quarter alone, Indiana forced nine turnovers and Minnesota only managed to hit two shots from the field — ending the opening frame with a 20-6 score.
The Hoosiers didn’t relent defensively in the second quarter either, forcing another nine turnovers to keep the hosts from finding any consistency or rhythm offensively. Late in the half, a strong shot contest by Holmes forced a miss to set up graduate guard Grace Berger for a pull up mid-range jumper on the other end, giving Indiana its largest lead of the game at 26 points.
After the game, Indiana head coach Teri Moren said the goal was to force turnovers by taking advantage of the Golden Gophers’ inexperience.
“I think we're mindful that this is a very young Minnesota team,” Moren said. "And with that comes some hiccups and just learning and gaining some experience.”
Indiana repeatedly took advantage of those hiccups from Minnesota’s underclassmen. Four Golden Gopher players finished the game with four or more turnovers — each of whom are freshmen or sophomores.
In particular, Indiana was able to force Minnesota sophomore forward Alanna Micheaux into seven turnovers. Micheaux was matched up against Holmes in the post and struggled mightily against the Hoosier star.
Even when Micheaux was able to get a shot off, Holmes and the defense made sure it wasn’t a clean look. Holmes finished with four blocks — part of Indiana’s seven as a team — and Micheaux only shot 3-of-13 from the field as the Hoosiers dominated the paint.
Outside of the post, Indiana made life difficult for Minnesota’s guards and wings as well, getting 12 steals in the game — five of which came from junior guard Sydney Parrish.
Despite generating the 12 steals, Indiana was unable to turn the plays into quick fast break opportunities, often instead taking the ball down and setting up its half-court offense.
“The thing that I was frustrated with, though, is you forced 29 turnovers, but yet you only have 10 fastbreak points,” Moren said. “When you force turnovers like that, the goal is to get some easy run outs which result in layups and we didn't score near the amount of points that I wanted to in early offense and transition.”
Although they rarely came on an open fast break layup like Moren wanted, Indiana was still able to capitalize on Minnesota’s mistakes, finishing the game with 30 points off turnovers.
While the Hoosiers allowed the Golden Gophers to establish some more offensive consistency in the second half, they kept generating enough mistakes to keep maintain a healthy margin and eventually win the game by 23 points.
The 54 points scored by Minnesota are the second-least allowed by Indiana in a Big Ten game this year and the 29 forced turnovers set a new season-high for the cream and crimson.
The Hoosiers will look to turn in a similar defensive performance on Sunday, when they travel to West Lafayette to take on rival Purdue in front of a sold-out Mackey Arena.