Patberg sparks No. 22 IU past Nebraska

By Jared Rigdon
Special to The Herald-Times

Junior guard Ali Patberg has long been the one to steady Indiana when it goes through a period of struggles. When IU went down 14-2 against Wisconsin a few weeks ago, she never let them get too far out of the contest en route to an overtime comeback win.

That calming presence has come in the form of forced turnovers, charges taken or just pure leadership. However, over the past handful of games, when IU’s really needed it most, it’s been the shooting of Patberg that has carried the Hoosiers to wins in four of the past five games.

Against Minnesota on Saturday it was a 29-point performance, 25 of those in the first half, to carry IU in a gutsy road victory.

On Thursday night, when IU couldn’t get in an offensive rhythm, it was Patberg that found her groove in the third quarter to spark No. 22 Indiana to an 81-53 win over Nebraska in the home finale.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and attack the basket,” Patberg said. “When I’m aggressive, so are my teammates, so that’s what I had to do.”

Offensive struggles at home have been a common theme of IU’s season in the Big Ten conference this season. There are nights where the Hoosiers just can’t find the bottom of the net.

When that happens, the best strategy becomes getting the ball inside to freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes. The pick-and-roll between Holmes and IU’s guards has become a thing of beauty over the course of the year.

In the first half, Holmes paced IU with 11 points, including 4-for-4 shooting from the floor in the first 20 minutes. Still, Indiana only led by six points at the break. A combination of poor shooting from the perimeter and eight turnovers allowed Nebraska to hang around longer than it likely deserved.

“We got off to a hot start and we sputtered a little bit,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said.

However, as it has all season, IU got production from Patberg when it needed it the most. First, it was a drive to the basket, drawing a foul while finishing through contact.

After Nebraska cut the lead down to 44-37, Patberg hit back-to-back 3-pointers, including one right before the buzzer, to swing the momentum in Indiana’s favor and bring Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to its feet.

It was the kind of night that All-Big Ten performers have. Patberg is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week and is playing her way to a plethora of postseason honors. Sophomore guard Grace Berger chipped in 15 points. Sophomore forward Aleksa Gulbe and Holmes both had 11 points.

“At halftime, just speaking with Ali Patberg, her importance of scoring the ball for us,” Moren said. “When she got rolling in the second half, I thought everyone stepped up and hit big shots. Ali gives everyone confidence, and that fourth quarter was a result of that confidence.”

Even on a night where she wasn’t asked to do much offensively, IU’s lone senior Brenna Wise impacted the game in only a way Wise could.

Her three points and eight rebounds don’t stand out in the scoresheet, but the charge she took with Indiana up 28 points, and the smile she flashed as she got to her feet, was something only she could do.

“It’s what our program is, the style of our program,” Wise said. “No matter if you’re up or down, you’ve got to do the dirty work and continue to build good habits. I took it with my chest and moved on.”

IU’s win over Nebraska set the regular-season program record with 22 wins and locked the Hoosiers into the No. 4 seed in next week’s Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Indiana wraps up the regular season at Michigan on Sunday afternoon before heading to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament.

A good showing in Indianapolis, and IU could potentially play itself into hosting an NCAA Tournament game. Wise doesn’t believe tonight was her last game in Assembly Hall. The way Patberg and the supporting cast played, it might not be.

“We haven’t reached our peak yet,” Wise said. “This is a great time to reach your peak around tournament time. We’re going to take this momentum. We had scoring from all aspects tonight, and I think that’s a testament to our depth. If we take this into the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be ready.”

13 comments

  1. From the Hammel old-time media perch in the SE corner of The Hall, flanked by a pair of ushers, with pop corn and drinks, Bob & Mrs. Hammel watched the better of two IU basketball games of last evening, with their guests… Mrs. and Mr. Bob Knight.

    There were no announcements, no jumbotron close-up appearances.

    Ali Patberg played the role of “Calbert” for the invisible guest 4-some, and IUWBB pulled away from Nebraska to a rout-like score in a late offensive explosion.

    Senior night honoree Brenna Wise knocked down the three in the second half which the crowd had awaited. Jaelyn had searched for her shooting touch through a number of clanks before making one late. Mac played with more of the energy that has seemed lacking in recent weeks. Ms. Gulbe had a workman-like effective evening at both ends. Grace B got aggressive as needed in support of Alipat’s riveting offensive performance.

    Collectively though, we seemed to play down to the level of the opponent, allowing it to be a five-point game, before the explosion of offense: but alas our three-point shooting cat escaped its long-closed bag. Even then it took “Calbert’s” launches to launch the other launchers.

    Playing ahead throughout gave Coach Moren the liberty to use her bench early and often. Crowd-favorite-walk-on Grace Waggoner saw her most time yet, and appeared early-game. A rebound and putback layup late in the game brought the crowd to it’s feet for Grace W.

    Check the box on the effort to give Brenna a nice send-off game. Check another box for having a stressless game as WBB must now quickly head to Michigan. With the BTN tourney 4-seed now clinched, Michigan becomes a momentum test. It’s a chance to prove to ourselves that our cat is out of the bag for good.

  2. Cat is never out of bag for good for anyone unless undefeated thereafter. IU Ladies can play their way into a 4 seed for March Madness = home field to start. Ali Patberg and IU Ladies kinda went crazy in quarter 4 to finally close a game out in a strong way. Confidently. It was there for large part of game and they finally later in 3rd quarter til end of game broke Nebraska by confidently playing through contact, hitting shots and it was game on. Not to be denied the good confident feelings snowballed in a stellar team effort. An excellent second wind can be instrumental to a good run/s this time of year. Good job Holmes. No hesitation. Just scored the ball.
    What a class dynamic representation of IU basketball Miss Teammates BREANA WISE who always impacts game with the ultimate attitude looking forward and onward to more games and her sidekick Ali Patberg demonstrating a sisterhood of love.

  3. A nice win to wrap up the home schedule. To start with, Brenna Wise has been a great leader for this team along with Ali. Brenna will most surely be missed next year not from the scoring side or defensive side of the ball but, simply because of her incredible leadership! I have read many times this year about her incredible approach to practice as well as games! Apparently she treats each practice as if it is a game. Her mental approach to everything basketball as been a huge influence on this team. The team played well enough to win tonight as expected although not as well as they are capable. As I was watching the game, I did not realize that Cain was held scoreless by our defense. Normally, their offense runs through her but, not tonight! Through the course of the game we were not playing as well as we could but, there came a time when Ali put the team on her back and carried us through to a good win. This is what players of her caliber do! When her leadership is needed, she steps up and does what is needed. Now we go to Michigan which is a tough place to play, it would be nice to win up there in order to keep our positive momentum going. Very nice to have the double bye going into the Big 10 Tournament! Go Hoosiers!!

  4. The never dying faith of Brenna Wise that this wont be her last game in assembly hall must be inspiring to her teammates. The belief that this team has not peaked and will continue on this roll at Mi. and in the B1G tourney. Mich. will be a tougher opponent on the road and hopefully IU is up for the task.

    The duo of Gulbe-Holmes defense on Cain was outstanding holding her scoreless and for the most part kept her off the boards. This is key since Neb. likes to take their game thru her. Because of the explosion IU had in the second half Grace Waggoner played plus 12 min. with not a bad stat line for the walk-on. 2 pts, 1reb. 1 ass. 2 st. Looking forward to the game on sunday and continued good play from the hoosiers.

  5. Actually, Waggoner may have played a little more but I think she got her 3rd foul in first half. She is becoming a little intriguing because she seems athletic, good strength and size, pretty good defensively and rebounder, a gamer, plays as a freshman like she believes she belongs there and seems confident in herself. Wonder if she will score some eventually?

  6. Just wondering what Brenna is hinting at when she has stated twice after last nights game that it was not her last game in Assembly Hall? What does that mean, is she possibly trying to get an extra year of eligibility? I was not aware that she could do that? Two years at Pitt and two years at IU add up to 4 years eligibility if my weak math is accurate? Am I missing something here? Maybe somebody knows something I am not aware of?? I know we are not going to be in the WNIT since we are goig to the dance! What am I missing here?

  7. And the only way that might be possible is for IU to win the big ten tourney. Nothing wrong with dreaming big.

  8. MikeC,
    Since NCAA stands for “Not Consistent About Anything,” I guess it’s possible Brenna could get another year, but I don’t think there’s any way.
    She played two whole years at Pitt, and two whole years here.
    What a great game. 31 points in a quarter is a LOT of points.
    Am I a bad person for thinking Aly scoring on a drive, popping her defender in the kisser while doing it, and getting a technical fired up both the team and the crowd? Seemed like things went crazy from that point forward.

  9. NatHill, I am with you knowing she has played 4 years and not missed games due to injury. I just don’t understand what she was saying when she made that statement about the game not being her last at home this year?? I am so confused??

  10. Mike C. and Nat…Breana Wise was referring to IU Ladies winning out and winning Big Ten tournament (or runner up) possibility of playing there way into March Madness tournament as a 4 seed. That would make IU Ladies a host school and a game/s played at IU Assembly Hall for Lady Hoosiers and B.W.

  11. Also to be able to go on that kind of a roll this team needs more people hot besides Ali and Grace,, Penn and Wise need to catch fire and the defense will have to be better .

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