IU women wrap: IUPUI

WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana grinded out an ugly, 51-45 win at IUPUI Sunday, extending its season-opening winning streak to 11 games. It marks the best start for the IU women since the 1992-93 season. The Hoosiers were pressured into 19 turnovers after entering the game averaging only 10 per game. They reached their season average late in the first half. IUPUI dominated the boards, out-rebounding Indiana, 46-37, including 24 offensive boards. Indiana managed only four field goals the entire second half, but they came when the Hoosiers needed them most. Despite its woes from the field, Indiana was 22-of-26 from the free throw line and made 11 in a row to close the game. The 11 wins by Dec. 15 matches Indiana’s entire win total from last season.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Lyndsay Leikem did not play at all in the first half, but made an immediate impact upon entering midway through the second. She and classmate Larryn Brooks each hit two of Indiana’s four second-half baskets, beginning when Leikem ended a 10:06 scoring drought from the floor in the second half with an and-a layup.

“We only made four baskets in the second half, but two of them were Lyndsay’s,” Indiana coach Curt Miller said. “She just moved better without the ball and seemed to have a calming influence. She also post passed a few times when we got fouled, so she was in the middle of play. Lyndsay Leikem playing crunch time minutes after not playing at all in the first half is big. You don’t always expect to be able to do that with freshmen. She rose to the moment after struggling in her last game and gave us big minutes down the stretch.”

Despite leading the Hoosiers with 15 points, Larryn Brooks had her worst game of the year. Brooks shot only 2-of-16 from the floor and didn’t record her first field goal until the 6:27 mark of the second half when, for the first time all afternoon, she made it look easy driving to the basket for a layup. Brooks was on the receiving end of her toughest defensive assignment of the season. IUPUI guard Dee-Dee Bellamy shut down Brooks, in part causing the freshman point guard to turn the ball over five times. Bellamy took away Brooks’ dribble-drive ability and forced her into poor, off-balance shots from medium range. Yet Brooks managed to get to the free throw line, where she shot 10-of-10.

KEY STAT: The Hoosiers shot 22-of-26 from the free throw line. Their 84.6 shooting percentage from the stripe was their highest of the season and it marked the third time in the last four games that they’ve shot at least 80 percent from the line.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “We talked in the locker room that if we don’t learn from this, this game later on will turn into a loss. If we can learn how they disrupted us, why they disrupted us, why we had the turnovers that we had and why we were not able to keep them off the boards, then this win is going to teach us a lot. But we have to learn from it and that’s the message in the rocker room. It was a win, but we have to learn from it.”
— IU coach Curt Miller on pulling out the win

MIKE’S “WHAT THE HECK?” MOMENT: This probably doesn’t fit with the spirit of the “What the heck?” anecdote section, but it wouldn’t be mentioned otherwise. The announced crowd at The Jungle was 647 and, it’s safe to say, at least two-thirds of those in attendance were Hoosier supporters. Now, Indianapolis, is prime IU territory, but it should be noted that the players and Curt Miller were extremely appreciative of the support outside of Bloomington. It was, more or less, a home game away from Assembly Hall. My other “What the heck?” moment involves getting kicked off press row while writing my story after the game. I mean, it happens, but it’s an occurrence usually reserved for high school games. Sigh.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?: It was a reality check, in some ways, for this young Hoosier team that has yet to meet defeat. Miller talked up IUPUI all week, calling Indiana the underdogs heading into Sunday’s game. The Jaguars aren’t a great team, but they do play very, very good defense. That’s twice this season — the Indiana State road victory included — that the Hoosiers have struggled against pressure defenses. They committed a season-high 22 turnovers against the Sycamores last month and another 19 today. Don’t think the bigger, better, faster teams of the Big Ten won’t notice.

Indiana’s depth at point guard may have saved the game. Miller sat Brooks for a five-minute stretch midway through the second half to give her a break from going toe-to-toe against Bellamy. It also gave her a chance to sit back and watch the game to find ways she could be herself again. When she returned to the floor, she went to the wing. Nicole Bell and Taylor Agler took control of the offense, allowing Brooks to find her comfort zone while creating without the ball. Bell is averaging only 8.7 minutes per game this season, but her abilities as the reserve point guard cannot be overlooked. She’s another player that provides what Miller calls a calming influence. She’s a leader and a dependable option should Miller want to switch things with Brooks and Agler.

The Hoosiers’ defensive effort deserves some credit for holding IUPUI to only 25 percent shooting from the floor for the night. Then again — and I may need to watch it over again — it just seemed like IUPUI missed a lot of open opportunities, too.

It was an ugly game, but the Hoosiers can’t afford to forget it. Just as Miller said, they need to recognize where things went wrong and learn how to fix them. There are still two road games left on the current swing, and Big Ten season looms two weeks away. Indiana was exposed a little on Sunday. For Miller and his staff, it was a series of teachable moments.

NOTABLE:
— The Hoosiers’ 11 non-conference wins ties for the program’s most non-Big Ten wins ever.
— Sasha Chaplin finished with eight points, including four perfect free throw opportunities in the final minutes.

2 comments

  1. The mental toughness and strong resolve of this young team was impressive against a very athletic team. I mentioned in my post in the other article about this game concerning the IU fan pressance at this game. It was quite impressive and it was good to read in this article that coach Miller and the team noticed. We were certainly trying to help and encourage the team as much as possible. Larryn Brooks really needs to let the game come to her at times instead of trying to do it all by herself which she did on several occasions during this game. Coach Miller sitting her for that 5 minute stretch during the second half really helped her and the team, when she re-entered the game she was a little more controlled. Mike, as you stated what coach Miller said, it is very important that we learn from this game. I would hope that the team wouldn’t over look the fact that we won this game but, realize that we in fact played poorly but still found a way to win. They should take pride in that and yet learn important lessons from the mistakes made in this game. The march continues, now on to Cleveland St. Go Hoosiers!

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