No. 12 IU women fall to No. 10 UCLA, 68-58

The reasons were plentiful.

The explanations were more difficult to come by.

Playing its final non-conference game of the regular season, the 12th-ranked Indiana women’s basketball suffered its first home loss of the year on Sunday, dropping a 68-58 decision to No. 10 UCLA at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers never quite got untracked, falling behind 18-4 early in the second quarter and struggling to shoot the ball throughout. IU was just 4-of-19 from 3 and only 14-of-24 on free throws. Committing 15 turnovers and giving up 16 second-chance points on 20 offensive rebounds didn’t help either.

Indiana (10-2) went through a drought of just over eight minutes spanning the end of the first quarter and start of the second as UCLA (11-0) took control with a 16-0 run.

It left Hoosier coach Teri Moren struggling to recognize her team, and it had nothing to do with the fact that they were wearing their traditional road red jerseys at home.

“To be honest with you, there was a moment when I turned to our bench and I did not recognize the team offensively out there that we have enjoyed watching and coaching,” Moren said. “It just seemed like our guard play was below average. We couldn’t get anything going. We just seemed out of sorts. There was no intention to anything we were doing. We would drive it to the paint and instead of taking a shot, hesitating. Instead of going to the rim, we would stop and pick up our dribble and not have anywhere to go with it.

“We saw that a lot, particularly in the first quarter. I don’t have an answer for that. It’s frustrating, because that’s not what they’re taught to do, and that’s not what we’ve watched them do.”

In spite of that, Indiana turned the tide with some good defense of its own. Jaelynn Penn hit back to back 3-pointers to jumpstart the offense and a crowd of 5,272 with an 8-0 run, although even that surge might have been more but for a spate of four turnovers in less than two minutes.

“We needed to get stops defensively, that turns into offense,” IU senior Brenna Wise said. “Then just chip away at it. You’re not going to wipe that lead away in one or two baskets. You have to get a stop, you have to get a score. You have to get a stop, you have to get a score. It’s piecing those together that made it flow, but it had to start at the defensive end.”

By halftime the Hoosiers were down just six, 25-19, and actually feeling pretty good.

“As poorly as we had played, we still felt like we were very much in the game,” Moren said. “And the other thing too, we felt like we for the most part we got good shots, they just didn’t go down. We were hopeful. We did the same thing against Youngstown the second half, so we thought we could come out this second half and score the ball much better.”

UCLA pushed the lead back to 11 to start the third quarter, but a 6-0 run, capped by Wise banking in a 3, got Indiana as close as it had been since it was 8-4.

“I know personally I had to relax a little bit,” said freshman Mackenzie Holmes, who led IU in scoring with 13 points. “I felt like I was rushing my shots (early), and not panicking but just rushing through things. In the second half, I had to take a deep breath and take it one possession at a time.”

The Hoosiers kept nipping at the Bruins’ heels, twice getting within two while missing a chance to tie with more missed free throws.

“The free throws were a problem,” Moren said. “You make your free throws in the first half and at the end of the game, it could be a different outcome.

“… We know we have to be so much better from the free-throw line. Those were points we needed tonight, that we had to have, we just couldn’t knock them down.”

The UCLA lead was back to eight early in the fourth quarter before another 7-0 run pulled IU within 46-45 with 7:49 to play. The Hoosiers never got closer than three again, as Michaela Onyenwere had nine of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to secure the win for the Bruins.

“She can score at a lot of different levels, making it hard to defend her,” Wise said. “She’s a great player. She’s going to get her points, but were her points tough to get, were they tough shots? And for the majority, they were.”

While Onyenwere was hitting shots of all sorts, Indiana continued to struggle to hit shots of any sort. The Hoosiers finished shooting 34.5 percent from the field (20-of-58), and when Penn missed a 3 to with IU down six and just 1:57 left, it was all but over.

“You have those days. Everybody has those days,” Wise said. “It’s how do we respond and where do we make up for that? It’s not every day you’re going to make 100 percent from the field, so how do we grit through those and figure it out. It was a game the entire time, and I’m proud of the fight.”

Indiana opens Big Ten play Saturday at 6 p.m. when it hosts No. 19 Michigan State.

33 comments

  1. In relative terms, it was a good crowd at Assembly Hall for this game, and attendance was well above average. I hope that continues through the season. These ladies deserve it.

  2. Lets be honest, UCLA is a better team than IU. Their athleticism and length were a problem for us all day. # 21 was the best player on the floor and we had nobody that could match up with her at all. They beat us in every statistical category. All in all, we had a pretty good pre-Big10 season, 10-2 is nothing to sneeze about. Podunker, as I watched the game I had the same feeling about the crowd. It would be great to average around 5,000 per game this year. We need to get a good start in the conference against Michigan St.! Go Hoosiers!!

    1. I agree with everything you said however if IU converts 70% of their free throws it’s a different game at the end (no need to foul) and possibly a different outcome. They easily left a dozen points on the table. The reality is you’re not going to win them all ….. unless you’re Uconn. We will be in the hunt for the B1G title this season along with Maryland.

  3. Nice to have over 5000 in the stands, they tried to get in the game to help our team but it wasnt meant to be today. Onyenwere couldnt be stopped and neither could Dean, one had 25 and the other had 24. The bruins have a great defensive team but we had open looks in the first qtr and they wouldnt go down, if you cant score you cant win. To be down that many against a team of the quality of the bruins make it nearly impossible, plus IU was 14 of 24 from the ft line. There were many oppotunities for us to get all the way back and we blew those plus the fact when we did get close they hit a shot. We have played better than we did today regardless of the opponent and we will again, on to the B1G and mich st. Go Hoosiers!!!

  4. Steve W.
    You watch a lot more college women’s basketball than I do.
    But after watching IU and a few scattered BigTen games (more like snippets), I honestly think that we have faced three teams with the ability to possibly end up in the final four (beating one of them), and I haven’t seen anybody play in the BigTen who was all that impressive to me this year.
    Your thoughts?
    I guess I’m hinting around that we might be legitimate contenders for the BigTen championship.

  5. Nat- Appears to me there are a lot of good teams in our Conf. Ohio St. not even ranked knocks off Louisville. There seems to be a lot of paroday but no overwhelming team, maybe a half doz. teams at the top that could be in contention for the crown and I happen to think IU is one of them, but all that said the Terps are still the team to beat.

  6. This game brought IU Ladies down to earth. I don’t care if UCLA ladies were big and good. IU ladies poor ft shooting and not living up to what T. Moren noted pre-season about IU would be able to score. In games since paradise jam IU ladies have had scoring droughts and are not shooting nor scoring well for long periods of time. Ft shooting is lacking and again rebounding is lacking. This was a got win at home game against a good opponent. The most disappointing thing is a home loss against UCLA. That’s most disappointing. Big game and IU ladies in recent games have demonstrated that they are over ranked after being well prepared for paradise jam. IU Ladies are again around a top 25 team that many teams are in that group.

  7. On the subject of slow starts which is hurting this team of late, can someone tell me why Mac is not starting and Gulbe is. It appears to me we might get off to a faster start , let Gulbe come off the bench in relief.

  8. Steve W, I agree whole heartedly, Holmes should be starting and getting around 25 to 30 minutes a game instead of around 18 minutes. She is shooting 69% from the floor. When we get the ball to her inside she is almost unstoppable. I also think that Jori Allen should be getting more than 8 or 9 minutes a game, she hustles her ass off! NatHill, IU is a top 20 team, I have seen a ton of women’s games this year and we belong up there! I have seen about half of the conference teams this year so far and I don’t fear anybody except Maryland. Our biggest problem this year so far is our free throw shooting, As a team we are shooting 66%. I told my wife at a game earlier this year that if we don’t improve our free throw shooting, it will be the death of us. Earlier this year it wasn’t a problem because we were not playing close games but, you now see what happens in a close game, every free throw is important. We missed 10 free throws yesterday and when it came down to the end of the game when we were trying to “get over the hump” as coach Moren stated, we could have used those missed free throws. If this team is going to improve their free throw shooting, they need to get in the gym during down time and practice, practice, practice, that is the way to get better! Here is an example although it is extreme, Brenna Wise was the leading free throw shooter in the conference last year at 92%, this year she is shooting 70%? More gym time girls! Go Hoosiers!

  9. First, let me say UCLA is an excellent team , deserving of their ranking , in my opinion I dont consider them a better team than IU,,,,, but on sunday they were the better team by far. It appeared the bruins had some payback on their minds. Too many missed opportunities by IU, shots, free throws, and bunnies. I too dont understand the sudden drop in FT % this year, yes Wise was over 90% and Patberg over 80% last season this season lets just say its bad and I hope it will improve. OK Ive done my venting , now lets move on,,,, to Mich State!

    1. Mike and Steve.
      Thanks for your continued comments. I watch some women’s game outside of IU, but I will admit I don’t see the big picture as well.
      I think that on a given night, we can scare and/or beat anybody in the country.
      Agree Holmes should start and LOVE how hard Jori plays. She would make a good linebacker 🙂
      GO IU !

  10. Yes, it’s Mac Dog time. Put her in starting line up. Gulbe can come off bench mainly for her or utility player (wing) where needed. I think both, players maximize their potential in those two roles. I think Gulbe would play better in that type role as well as Mac helping team to a better start. Then, practice ft shooting in practice game situations and reps to get touch back. Mac is just a competitive skilled athletic center. (Ok T. Moren Mac has demonstrated and already paid her dues for starting lineup).

  11. Gulbe and Holmes have combined to average 20 points and 11 rebounds per game at the 5 position so far this season. They have also combined for 29 blocks and 20 steals. Gulbe leads the team in free throws made and attempts. She is second only to Grace Berger in steals. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. For this season splitting the game 50/50 between those two is the best course of action. Who starts is irrelevant.
    I do believe it is time for Bendu’s return to the starting line-up and have Grace come off the bench. Our starting guards combined to shoot 8 for 31 yesterday. If you take away the 2 uncontested lay-ups in the last 40 seconds of the game by Patberg they were 6 for 29 (21%).
    A new season begins Saturday. Merry Christmas everyone!

  12. scwartzie–Your overall theory is ok and correct except that we are referring to the “slow start situation” and switching the two and starting Mac could help. So if its irrelevant start Mac!

  13. I have always really liked Gulbe and will continue to like her a lot. However, Mac has a scorers mentality. She knows what she wants to do and is good at it having the skills to be an offensive weapon. This could get IU Ladies in a better frame of mind from start. This should lead to more confidence avoiding these long scoring droughts. Plus Mac should get better and better as she develops. Grace Berger is not doing what she was at start of year. Mac could make everyone around her better by getting out of the gate more efficiently.

  14. Nice to see IU only dropped a couple spots, thought they might drop more, that says something for the program.

  15. In the latest Charlie Crean Bracketology, IU is a # 4 seed. The Big 10 has 9 teams in the bracket. The ACC and the SEC were both next in line with 7 teams each. At this point in time the Big 10 seems to be the strongest conference in the country. Go Hoosiers!!

  16. Appears the pollsters gave IU a pass this week even losing by 10 at home. The Bruins may be even better than their #10 ranking. IU only drops 2 in the AP and 1 in the coaches polls. Overall the big ten may be the best its ever been considering there’s 14 teams, and several teams with only 1 or 2 losses, could be a real dogfight at the top of the conf.

  17. Sorry to change the subject but I do follow the transfers from IUWBB and I noticed Ria Gulley, who had started every game this season for Liberty University is suddenly nowhere to be found on their roster, no mention in the game notes since her 19 minute performance on Dec. 3rd. Does anyone know what happened?

    1. I couldn’t see anything concrete, but I believe she graduated early, so she may be done playing as well.

  18. The hoosiers need to get back to playing like they did in the Jam. Start fast and dont look back. Strange to say but this year it is IU who has the target on their back and will get every opponents best shot , all trying to knock off a top #15 team. Today’s game against State will be no different.

  19. Looks like a “B1G freshman of the week for Holmes” to start the big ten season and well-earned. More and more we will see defensed centered around stopping passing in to the post because of her ability. She will improve because of this and hopefully we will get our outside shot back which is poorly lacking of late and what has happened to Wise ,, need a resurgence from her especially at the ft line.

  20. Ft’s ft’s ft’s… Holmes has not disappointed. She makes everyone around her better. For IU Ladies they need to be ready to do things when Holmes gets more attention while Keeping Holmes highly involved. Holmes knows what to do with the ball, both scoring and passing.

    1. My wife and I have said that our guards will need to get used to looking for Holmes down in the post.
      We have not had a post player of her quality for a few years.
      Until they get used to watching for her, I think we will have to get used to seeing them miss openings for her.

  21. Gulbe has made some good plays and play has improved as she continues her development for her sophomore season.

  22. I agree on Gulbe, nice improvement for her on the inside, stronger than holmes, but she is not holmes. Because of Mac’s ability to go either way use either hand it will be nearly impossilble to stop her one on one. She will require double and triple teams eventually , thats ok cause shes a good passer too. Now on to 11-1 Rutgers, see how we do on the road. Go Hoosiers!!!

  23. Holmes and Gulbe combined for 29 points (12 for 15 shooting) and 10 rebounds. I’ll take that from the 5 spot every game but I also believe that they are capable of more scoring with a few more touches down low each game.

  24. Too bad the men’s program doesn’t schedule a once elite UCLA men’s program …..Though no longer a true “blue blood” in the current definition of relevance , it would surely bring a lot more December buzz and students (even those on break in Indy) than a game against Razorbacks.

    I get the avoiding of UCLA while Alford was coach, but let’s get them back on our men’s schedule…every couple years or so. And get the new AD to bring back the storied seasonal rivalry game vs. Kentucky as well! Boring match-ups usually means uninspiring basketball.
    Fearing great match-ups and old storied battles revisited may not totally explain why a team is so flat against Arkansas between Christmas and New Year’s but when you set low bars…you tend to get low bars.

    Hopefully, IU Women’s hoops can someday schedule non-conference against a UConn…or ND team. To be tested is an honor. To be given non-conference schedules built of doldrums is not indicative of a candy stripe spirit.

    We must put higher demand on our new AD to schedule for the men(games like UK and UCLA) …with the same undaunted spirit building in the women’s program. These games come with big viewership ratings as well. No national audience cares about IU vs. Arkansas. That’s like getting mailed a fruitcake. It’s a regifting game.

  25. Scwartzie, I know you are fine with Holmes and Gulbe splitting time at the center position but, with Holmes being completely unstoppable down low, I still say she needs at least 25 minutes a game instead of the 18 which she is averaging. Still say Gulbe’s best position is the wing, did note that Moren had both in the game at the same time against Michigan St. at times. Gulbe is not nearly effective with her back to the basket as she is facing the basket because of her range. Did I read this morning that Holmes field goal percentage was second in the nation at almost 70%? I do think that bringing Grace off the bench with Bendu starting would be detrimental. Bendu has not shown anything yet this year trying to return from her injury. She has not even been noticeable when she is on the floor? She has not been able to score and has yet to take the ball to the basket like last year. I cringed during the game against Michigan St. when she attempted a 3, she is definitely not a 3 point shooter! Her strength is using her incredible athleticism close to the basket and she has not shown that yet this year. Not starting Berger when she has been our leading scorer this year seems counterproductive. Grace has to start, she is basically our best all around player! Go Hoosiers!!

  26. MikeC Grace Berger has a ways to go to be our best all around player, at least in my opinion. She leads the team in turnovers, lags a ways behind our other starting guards in rebounding and still needs a lot of improvement in her half court defense. Patberg has almost twice as many rebounds and 26 more assists and is only 0.2 ppg less in scoring. Ali has 66 assists to 28 turnovers. Grace is a very good offensive player, in fact I would like to see her take more shots, but she has a lot of work to do to become a great all around player. Holmes fg % is .713 and is second in the country to Monika Czinano of Iowa. That will be a good match – up to watch. As a team IU is 6th at 49.1 %.
    Beat Rutgers!

    1. No surprise about B.Y. I think regardless, she is a role player. Her athletic abilities was her strength. (Both, defensive and going to Bucket). Take that away because of injury and talent level of Lady Hoosiers reality is she can stay involved (knowing she’s the type of player T.M. likes) as playing some to finish out her career. For B.Y., hopefully injury free and accepting her role and not getting frustrated and discouraged negatively affecting herself and team.
      Playing Holmes more minutes will be forced because she is playing that well. Gulbe can continue to play some center. However, both can play at same time and Gulbe can play some wing or whatever T.A. draws up. Like Gulbe progress. Gulbe is a better player this year. Plus Holmes is helping make her better. Holmes can make everyone better. First time that center position is a main threat. Holmes is all around good and has that scorers mentality.

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