Focus not a factor as No. 12 IU women roll

There were no Monday blues for the Indiana women’s basketball team.

Maybe a few early blahs but no blues.

The 12th-ranked Hoosiers refused to get caught looking ahead to Thursday’s rivalry game against Purdue and instead delivered an early knockout punch en route to an 83-42 win over Illinois Monday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“We have a lot of big goals in the Big Ten, and every day is one game at a time, one team at a time,” said junior point guard Ali Patberg. “That’s our motto, that’s been our motto, and we’re going to keep doing that, focusing on one game, one team at a time.”

Indiana didn’t necessarily come out swinging. It took almost three minutes to score a basket, and IU coach Teri Moren wasn’t really sure what to think as her team missed its first six shots, albeit in a scoreless game.

“Grace’s first shot was terrific, right in her wheelhouse, just in and out,” Moren said. “Then (Aleksa Gulbe) misses a point-blank layup, so you kind of wonder. You always talk about the first four minutes, getting on the boards early, getting on the board first, getting (the other team) to call the first time out. Anything we can do over there as coaches to trick them into trying to get off to a quick start, we try to do.”

A 9-0 run, keyed by a Patberg 3-pointer, put the Hoosiers in control as the lead ballooned to 16-5.

“Once we settled in, got some rhythm, we started sharing the ball,” Moren said. “I thought Ali was terrific. We stayed aggressive. I thought we took what the defense gave us and that’s why we built the lead.”

It was all Indiana from that point on, as the Hoosiers seemingly took whatever they wanted against a struggling Illini defense that gave up 108 points at Iowa the last time out.

Shifting IU into gear was Patberg, who was 7-of-8 from the field and 4-of-4 from 3 en route to a game-high 19 points. She is shooting 17-of-24 (.708) since Big Ten play began.

“After the UCLA game, we needed to see a different Ali, and I think she has tried to (respond),” Moren said. “She’s an emotional kid, so part of her maturity as she’s moved forward with our team and leading our team, and she has matured is she has understood that her composure and her poise and her being less emotional, even though that’s a great part of her but not to the point where it takes her out of the game, is something she’s trying to focus on.

“She was terrific on the road at Rutgers, just running our team. Their press was something we were concerned about. She’s been really good and we need her to continue to be great, not just Thursday, but as we head back on the road after that.”

The Indiana lead was 22-8 after one quarter and continued to grow in the second. A 6-0 run here and a 6-0 run there allowed the Hoosiers to steadily bury the Illini.

Patberg finished the first half off by beating the Illinois defense and the buzzer with a layup off a clearout to the left side for a 43-19 lead after the visitors gave two fouls to try and slow the IU offense in the final 10 seconds.

And there would be no letting up in the third quarter.

“At the half, the score is 0-0, so just focusing on what we need to work on to continue to grow,” Patberg said. “A big emphasis was defensive rebounding, limiting their offensive rebounds. We continued to do that in the second half, and I think we go the ball moving well offensively.”

Indeed, Indiana dominated the backboards, 41-21, allowing just five offensive rebounds while grabbing 13 of their own misses for a 15-0 edge in second-chance points.

Mackenzie Holmes finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, Aleksa Gulbe nine points and nine rebounds and Grace Berger grabbed six rebounds to go with her 11 points.

The Hoosiers started the third quarter with a 10-0 burst highlighted by back to back 3s from Patberg, the second a launch from 24 feet to beat the shot clock that found nothing but net.

“Yeah, felt good and shot clock was running down, so I shot it,” Patberg said with a big postgame grin.

Two minutes later, she subbed out for the final time as Indiana rested the starters and got the reserves plenty of playing time. No Hoosier played more than 25 minutes and every Hoosier but one scored, much to everyone’s delight.

“It was awesome, especially knowing how much work those girls put in,” Holmes said. “They put in just as much time as us, so it was great knowing they get the chance to go out there. Grace Waggoner hit a huge 3, had a great pass to Hannah (Noveroske). Hannah got a bucket, so just to see them all out there was really fun.”

The bench refused to relinquish even a bit of the 30-point lead it inherited and instead built on it.

“It was great that we got a big enough lead that we could go to our bench and rest some of our normal starters, then I thought the bench was terrific,” Moren said. “Sometimes people say anytime you go to your bench, you lose something, and I thought tonight that was not the case. I thought that Chanel (Wilson) and (Keyanna Warthen) and those kids in there at the end handled themselves in a really great way and were still able to score the ball and keep it clean and finish the game the right way.”

One Hoosier who did not play was junior guard Bendu Yeaney, who returned to the court in December from last March’s torn Achilles.

According to Moren, Yeaney needs some more time as she deals with the ebbs and flows of the rehab process.

“Her mobility right now is not where she wants it to be, not where we want it to be,” the IU coach said. “So we made the decision we were going to try and focus on improving that right now. We decided we’re going to keep her out until we feel like she looks different and feels different. Right now I think it’s noticeable as far as her acceleration at times. I think defensively we’ve seen her at times not have the burst we’re used to seeing.

“Right now we’re focused more on how can we help her feel more comfortable in her movements, just the mobility part. Until we can do that, I think we’ll just focus on that.”

Focus was what the Hoosiers were best at on Monday

“We have blinders on when it comes to what’s ahead of us, and it’s a one-game season always as we start the week,” Moren said. “Now we’ll turn our attention to Purdue.”

15 comments

  1. Very nice game last night with IU playing well almost the whole game. Very slow start when we couldn’t buy a basket inside as we were wearing Illinois out on the offensive boards. After about 3 or 4 minutes things really picked up and we were scoring at will. It was a dominating performance against the worst Illinois team we have seen in years. This could have been seen as a trap game with Purdue coming up on Thursday but, we played with great enthusiasm and concentration to get the job done. Tonight’s game is the way ranked teams play when they play a lesser opponent. In years past when we played a team that was not nearly as good as us, we would play down to their level but, that is starting to change proving that this team is mature and as good as their national ranking! As Moren mentioned in the article the bench was terrific and it was great to see Grace Waggoner get 9 minutes of playing time and have 2 assists and a 3 pointer at the end that brought the crowd to a roar! Very cool! One negative on the evening was only having 3, 024 in attendance? I would have thought after the last 2 home game where we had 5,000+ and 6,000+ that things were going to get a little better but, not so much. I still don’t get it why we can’t support this team better, it’s not like there was anything else going on last night in Bloomington? Of course I realize that the night we had 6,000 it was $1 to get in but, student support still pathetic to say the least? Perhaps having Purdue coming in Thursday will bring in a much bigger crowd. We can only hope? Lets get a big crowd out Thursday night and stomp the Boilers! Go Hoosiers!!

  2. The way the game started out I was thinking we were playing down to our opponent , thank goodness that changed and we started playing more the #12 team in the country. Yes the crowd in the hall seemed like even less than 3000, anticipation is the crowd will be bigger on thursday. It was good to see us get such a big lead so the bench could get some minutes. In that entire final 5 minutes I was hollering for them to get the ball to Waggoner and finally they did and the biggest roar of the game eruptured with the making of that 3. She also had a great assist to Hannah. It was great to see that while the bench players were in there was no drop off the lead still extended. Looking forward to a great effort on thursday.

    1. There was a time not so long ago when 3,000 was a good crowd for a women’s game. This one wasn’t set up for a big crowd as you had a lesser opponent on a Monday night, the first night back to school and work after the holiday break, plus students not yet back from break and Purdue coming on Thursday. I’d bet on closer to 6,000 for that one.

  3. So a #12 Hoosiers women’s game still couldn’t fill much more than 50% of a large high school gym in Indiana? Disgraceful.

    New Castle 10,000
    ‘old’ Wigwam, Anderson 8996
    Seymour 8110
    East Chicago Central 8050
    Richmond 7929
    Elkhart Central 7373 (8284 before renovations)
    Michigan City 7220
    West Side(Gary) 7217
    Jefferson (Lafayette) 7200
    Southport (Indianapolis) 7124

      1. While I would agree that our attendance is far below what it should be, here are some numbers from last season…
        IU’s average attendance at a home game last season was just under 4,000.
        The nationwide average attendance at a women’s game was 770.
        Our average attendance at home games was high enough to put us at the 25th highest in the country.
        So while our attendance could be better, we still have higher attendance than over 90% of the rest of the teams in the nation.

  4. IU women Ladies are still climbing attendance hill. If they keep winning I suspect they are going to turn the corner to double attendance. Basketball fans love a winner. It would be great to see B.K. to come back to IU as an IU Ladies basketball fan. T. Moren and IU Ladies are playing similarities to B.K. styles of basketball.

  5. t
    I agree with your B.K. comment.
    Coach Moren has often commented on her family coming home from Church to watch the Bob Knight television show.
    IU Women show hustle, good fundamentals, intelligence, teamwork, the whole deal.

  6. This team is a reflection of a Coach that has the attention of her players. They understand that there is a greater goal! You don’t see “ME” plays, you see “WE” plays. They may not win all of the games they should win, but they will always compete and that is why I love watching this TEAM.

  7. Did any of you hear Dakich say B.K. might be at the men’s game this Saturday…? He spouted that on ESPN during the OSU @ Maryland game on Tuesday night.

    Also, did any of you catch his Isiah Thomas comment…? Classic Dakich….Dakich was referencing a guard in the game reminding him of the great Isiah Thomas..He went on to say to his broadcast partner that he was referencing the long ago Isiah who once played for Detroit……Dan never said the Isiah who once played for Indiana. Good Lord, that dude has such a deep resentment for Indiana. He needs serious counseling..

  8. Dakich has sports knowledge supported by sports guest personalities and has developed this character of loud mouth BS that media bosses allow him to execute. This has made Dakich very egotistically confident targeted towards talking down to sports fans to create controversial thinking. He is twisted in his resentment that has carved out a great career/financial living for himself.

  9. So just how good is this IU team , any bold predictions out there. There was at least one who last year predicted sweet sixteen, obviously didnt quite make it. But being thrown in that portland region didnt help having to go against Oregon in the second round. If things can keep going in this direction IU will host the first two rounds ,,,, so is a sweet 16 in the making for IU—- Go IU!!!

  10. Yes. Plus elite 8 and maybe more. Definitely as their ranking indicates. This team still has much upside. The most being with Holmes even though she is already really good.

  11. I said about 4 weeks ago that this is the best IU women’s team that I have ever seen and I have been a season ticket holder for about 30 years. Also stated that I thought this team could advance DEEP into the NCAA tournament this year baring injury. This team became this good when Holmes stepped onto the court! She is the key to any long term success for this team. We have not had this kind of player at the center position since I have been a season ticket holder! As I mentioned a week ago, Jill Chapman comes to mind who was very good and an all-conference player but, Holmes is better because of her mobility and great inside presence. This team’s balance is what makes them a real challenger for deep advancement in “The Big Dance”! Go Hoosiers!

  12. Yes I agree, Holmes is a difference maker, she is something IU has not had and as I mentioned before is the missing link to help this team go farther than ever before. This is not just a local fan biased reasoning but now more national with the rankings #12 /13 . Because of the interest drawn to Holmes now with more double teams she will have to kick out to open shooters who hopefully will hit shots. IU now gets into the meat of the big ten, Purdue tonight then go to Iowa who is playing well, then NWestern comes in plus they also have Maryland twice this season. Positioning in the conf. will shape up when some of those games are played. Go Hoosiers!!!

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