Berger, defense push No. 18 IU women past Purdue

Via Stefan Krajisnik of the Indianapolis Star:

Purdue is no stranger to Grace Berger’s talent, but she gave Indiana’s rival a reminder during Thursday’s 66-45 win — No. 18 Indiana’s seventh win in the last eight meetings with Purdue.

With the clock winding down in the first half and Purdue in the midst of what would become an 11-minute scoring drought, Berger dribbled behind her back and freed up space just before pulling up from well behind the 3-point line.

The play offered a reminder of a similar move Berger made against Purdue two years ago which was featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 when she sent a Purdue defender to the ground after going behind her back.

Both plays came in the midst of a blowout win for the Hoosiers.

“It gives you some momentum, gives you some really good juice when you go into halftime after a shot like that,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We see her putting the ball behind her back and doing a lot of things inside of the offense, so I don’t know of anything that Grace Berger does at this point that any of us are shocked by.”

Berger finished the game with 22 points (8-of-13 shooting) and her highlight play came as part of a 20-0 scoring run as Indiana took control of the game.

The score was tied at 15 before IU’s defense clamped down. The Hoosiers’ second-ranked scoring defense in the Big Ten held the Boilermakers to 34 percent shooting from the field.

“We tried to push them out of the box, out of their comfort area as much as we could and just tried to wall up and make them take tough shots,” Moren said.

Moren gave credit to associate head coach Rhet Wierzba who was given the task of scouting Purdue. Berger mentioned postgame how Indiana had an idea of some of the play calls Purdue ran and was anticipating some of the tendencies that Purdue’s players had.

The 45 points allowed are tied for the second-fewest Indiana (8-3, 6-1) has allowed to an opponent this season behind a 26-point performance for Samford in November.

It is also the lowest-scoring total for Purdue (5-5, 2-4) against Indiana since a 52-44 loss on Feb. 2, 2018.

“He is excellent in terms of understanding their sets, and they run a lot of them,” Moren said. “The nice thing about having an empty gym is that Coach Rhet’s voice carries.”

Indiana, which won its third straight overall, had just nine turnovers to Purdue’s 16, giving IU a 12-0 advantage in points off turnovers.

With Purdue looking to establish a zone defense at times, being able to force turnovers and push the tempo — which has always been Moren’s mantra — helped Indiana create its offense.

And much of that offense was created through sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes again.

Holmes scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, giving her a 20-plus point performance for the third time this season and the second time in the last three games.

Purdue’s size forced issues early on for Holmes, but once she started establishing strong position inside, there was little the Boilers could do.

“She just needed to settle in,” Moren said. “She’s really good around the bucket, as we know — very crafty. She’s able to score the ball in different ways.”

Considering Purdue leads the all-time series 55-36, it has been an impressive run in the rivalry for Indiana under Moren, who is 9-3 against her alma mater.

IU has won four straight games in the rivalry, and as a Purdue grad, Moren is aware of the importance of these games regardless of records or rankings.

Moren graduated from Purdue in 1992 where she played under Lin Dunn. Dunn inherited a team that struggled to get into the NCAA Tournament and turned it into a program that competed in Final Fours, which is what Moren is now trying to do at Indiana.

“I had a tremendous experience and I have a degree from Purdue, and I’m really grateful for that,” Moren said. “But when you get into the profession and no matter where you’re at, what team that you represent, we’re all competitors…

“I was there when Purdue was being built by Coach Dunn and her staff. I have some takeaways that I think we’ve used here in terms of trying to build this thing the right way.”

Indiana will have to wait until next Thursday for its next game after Monday’s matchup with Rutgers was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns within the Rutgers program.

13 comments

  1. It was a first quarter clank. If IU Ladies could just improve there overall team shooting including 3 ball and (ft’s sometimes) because they do pretty much everything else very well pretty much all the time.

  2. Shooting percentages against Purdue were acceptable at Purdue but still could improve a little….but shooting percentages really have needed to improve against the best teams = scoring droughts which accounts for 3 losses. Maybe, IU Ladies will become hot and improve in that area as season continues.

  3. Gulbe had a quiet 10 points, 6 boards, 4 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks. She may be the most under rated player in the B1G.

  4. Crazy schedule this year. We have played all the bad teams in the Big10 and lost to number one Maryland by four points. Really anxious to watch us play the other nationally ranked Big10 teams.
    This group of IU women is GOOD ladies and gentlemen.
    Agree on Gulbe scwartzie. And in my mind Berger has clearly become our best player.

  5. Berger has been our best player all year long. As a 6 foot guard who can really handle the ball, she is incredibly difficult to guard. Nobody has a true guard who can handle her and if you put a smaller guard on her she simply takes them inside and over powers them. She is a matchup nightmare for any team! To bad, we have her and you don’t! I said it earlier this year, she may be the MVP of the conference? Gulbe is the steady rock on this team. As Scwartzie mentioned, she has those types of stats almost every game. There isn’t another player in the conference that is more important to their team as she is to us! It’s time to start the chant: MVP, MVP, MVP!!! Go Hoosiers!

  6. I was looking forward to the triple header coming up on monday but for IU Rutgers has already bowed out with covid issues. This would of been a tough matchup as Rutgers also only lost by 4 to Maryland. Yes Berger has quickly become the head of the snake on this team or maybe this is a two headed snake with Holmes as the other. Penn is missed more on defense than on offense and Its good to see Key with her valuable minutes on defense and an occasional score. Guess IU’s next game is Mich. St . on thurs. Go IU!!

  7. I think sometimes we pick out specific players and say they are the best on the team. Well, I think we should begin to realize that each player is a different height and has a different skill. Coach Moren has put the best of them on the floor to do what each does best to give us the best team we have. Some were highscorers in high school but now give up scoring to do what the coach wants. Each probably has something that they would like to do but give it up to help the TEAM win. So when you pick a name above someone else, remember the the “else” may have done her job better than “your pick” but not receive any credit for their doing their thing to help the team. Look above, no one has mentioned Pattberg. What does she do during the game? She helps set up the plays, provided assists, makes enough points when needed to open the middle up for the rest of the team.

    “Each player is a different height and has a different skill” – keep that in mind and let us let them all know that we appreciate each of their contributions to the team. Even the bench, each has a skill that Moren calls on to help the team – let us not foret their contributioin, they will be our starters and stars of the future.

  8. With the Mich – Mich St. ppd on monday makes you wonder if the matchup on thurs with State will also be ppd. That would but IU on a 10 day lapse with no game till sunday provided that one isnt ppd also.

    1. VERY thoughtful remarks Dennis.
      Ali is extremely valuable any way you slice it, and we will miss her greatly when she leaves.

  9. Neb. has emerged as the new Giant killer having knocking of NW, Mich St, and most recently Ohio St. and they came within 2 pts of beating Mich. Thats coming a long way after losing to IU and PU. Yes IU will face them again.

  10. Northwestern plays Thursday vs rusty IU Ladies Basketball team at N.W. Northwestern is always a challenge and IU Ladies will probably be out of tune/ rhythm on the road.

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