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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

‘We got bullied’: No. 14 Indiana women’s basketball struggles defensively in Illinois loss

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No. 14 Indiana women’s basketball had one of its worst defensive performances of the season in Monday afternoon’s 86-66 loss to Illinois. The Hoosiers allowed 80+ points for the fourth time this season with three of those four games resulting in blowout losses for the cream and crimson. Although Indiana did not have a particularly stellar game offensively, it was the defensive struggles that led to the Hoosiers’ collapse in Champaign. 

“We got bullied all night,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said postgame. “We couldn't keep them in front of us, and then we didn't have any great rim protection with our bigs. We just did a poor job.” 

Although the Illini merely made four 3-pointers, they finished the game with six players in double figures. The Illini dominated the post, finishing with 42 points in the paint. Additionally, they made a living at the free throw line going 20-for-24 compared to Indiana’s 8-for-9 at the charity stripe. 

Much of Illinois’ scoring was done by its guards, who consistently passed on perimeter shots in favor of opportunities at the rim and trips to the free-throw line. Senior guards Genesis Bryant and Makira Cook led the Illini with 22 and 15 points, respectively.  

“Their guard play is so great,” Moren said. “They’re attacking, they're quick and they run action too.” 

The clearest example of Indiana’s inability to defend was the entirety of the second quarter where the Hoosiers were outscored 26-11. The second frame was the turning point that forced Indiana to play from behind for the rest of the game. 

Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, sudden collapses have become a recurring theme in the latter half of the season. For example, Indiana scored just seven points during the third quarter of its 68-54 win over Wisconsin on Feb. 14. 

“I don't know why sometimes we come out and we’re flat,” Moren said. “It was a beyond-poor second quarter for us.” 

Indiana struggled to force turnovers against the Illini on the defensive end and wasted their offensive possessions by making mistakes. The Hoosiers lost the turnover battle 14-5, a season-low in takeaways for Indiana. 

The Hoosiers' offense didn't do their defense any favors either, as they shot 3-for-12 in the second quarter and went 1-for-7 from beyond the arc in the first half. 

“As good as they were offensively, they got after us defensively,” Moren said. 

Another key contributor to Indiana’s loss was Illinois’ ability to prevent second-chance points and keep graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes off the glass.  

“Holmes does so much damage with getting rebounds and putbacks,” Illinois head coach Shauna Green said postgame. “Their team flourishes when she does that.” 

Holmes was held to two rebounds — just one offensive — against Illinois while Indiana finished with only 6 second chance points. The Hoosiers were unable to get the better of Illinois on either side of the floor and it showed on the scoreboard. 

“We got to be able to out-rebound them and here we sit once again they out-rebounded us,” Moren said. “We were very poor defensively, not that our offense was great.” 

Indiana will look to alleviate those mistakes when it hosts No. 4 Iowa. The Hoosiers were similarly routed by the Hawkeyes 84-57 in their prior matchup Jan. 13 in Iowa City. The cream and crimson will hope for a different result when they welcome senior guard Caitlin Clark into Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m, and the game will be streaming on Peacock. 

Follow reporters Dalton James (@DaltonMJames) and Quinn Richards (@Quinn_richa), columnist Ryan Canfield (@_ryancanfield) and photographer Olivia Bianco (@theoliviabianco) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s basketball season.

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