No. 16 IU women rally for road win

Comebacks have not been kind to the Indiana women’s basketball team this season.

The Hoosiers saw Kentucky rally for a win, then saw their own second-half surges come up short against Tennessee and Maryland.

On Sunday, IU was determined not to be disappointed again.

Trailing 49-36 with 5:17 left in the third quarter, No. 16 Indiana closed the game on a 38-12 run to claim a 74-61 win at No. 21 Northwestern.

“No doubt about it, it felt good,” IU coach Teri Moren said.

The big deficit was the result of a 10-0 run by the Wildcats (8-3, 6-3 B1G) early in the third quarter. Their first five made field goals of the second half came in the paint, and they added three free throws.

The Hoosiers (9-3, 7-1) responded with a slow and steady climb back, trimming the deficit to 54-48 heading to the fourth quarter on Grace Berger’s banked-in runner at the buzzer.

After the teams traded baskets to open the fourth quarter, slow and steady turned into an Indiana onslaught.

Spearheaded by Mackenzie Holmes, who finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, with help from Berger (14 points) and Jaelynn Penn (12 points) in her first game back from injury, the Hoosiers would go on an 18-1 run over the next seven minutes to claim a 68-57 lead with two minutes left.

“I thought the fourth quarter was ours,” Moren said. “We really shined in that moment.”

Nicole Cardano-Hillary tied the game at 56 with a 3-pointer, then after missing a couple of chances to take the lead, Berger’s pullup from 15 feet put IU on top, 59-57, with 5:59 remaining. It was the first lead since it was 33-32 in the second quarter.

“We tied it up there on Nikki’s 3, then kept our foot on the pedal,” Moren said. “We had to get the stops — that’s how it started.

“We executed down the stretch, particularly the last media time out. (Assistant) coach Rhet (Wierzba) drew up a great out-of-bounds play for Mackenzie that she wheeled around and got a three-point play off of. I tell everybody we are a veteran, experienced team and I thought that shone through this afternoon with the way we finished the game.”

Northwestern went over seven minutes without a made field goal in that fourth quarter as Indiana clamped down.

“I think the biggest thing was transition defense,” Penn said. “We weren’t really getting back in the first half. We had to tighten that up in the second half, which we did really well.

“Also, just fouling. Can’t control the refs, can’t control the calls, but just one-on-one have pride in our defense, stay straight up and don’t bail them out on those tough shots.”

Part of that was also that the Hoosiers quit feeding the Wildcats’ offense with turnovers. Northwestern scored 13 points off eight IU turnovers in the first half but just four points off four turnovers in the second half.

In the end, Indiana finally finished off a comeback and collected its first win of the season against a ranked opponent in the process.

“This is a huge win for us,” Penn said. “We’ve come up short on some ranked teams this season, so to beat a ranked team and win a road game in the Big Ten is big.”


  1. In my mind, this was by far the women’s biggest victory of the year.
    Ashamed to admit I was very discouraged about the middle of the third quarter, but the IU women played brilliantly to win the game.
    I thought Penn was the star of the game, all things considered.

  2. Northwestern Ladies is a challenge for IU Ladies during T. Moren era. IU Ladies were rusty but came through especially from middle of third quarter on. T. Moren pre-game said IU Ladies were going to go inside where IU Ladies has advantage and 3 ball was not the game plan. IU Ladies struggled to hang in the game. However, tremendous credit goes to T. Moren, staff, and players because IU Ladies didn’t abandon game plan. T. Moren and staff challenged Holmes to settle down and trusted her to make decisions and take her time to score and Holmes (per assistant coach post game interview) came through like a champ. Also Penn was assigned to lock down Lindsey Pullman in second half. Penn came through like a champ as well including even making good on a 3 ball IU continuing to go inside. IU Ladies were doing a lot of things right and pulling away from a smaller Northwestern Ladies team who were really good from the ft line. IU Ladies took pretty good care of the ball against Northwestern Ladies pressure defense, especially from middle of third quarter. Excellent team effort. IU Ladies as is known need to eliminate scoring droughts and put ball in the basket for whole games including continue to improve ft shooting.

  3. To sustain a hope-to-improve over last year, this was a MUST WIN but also a GREAT WIN, because we shook off so many demons, both inside the game and by winning it as we came from behind. Yeah, sure “each win counts the same.” Nevertheless, this win just matters more, as it keeps us alive with a chance to finish top two regular season with Maryland, resulting in better seeding for any tournaments.
    We shattered the NW has our number demon… the quarter or more of sleepwalking demons… the comeback only to tie, and then die, demon… the we don’t FINISH demons (finish shots, finish games demon). It was THEY, not us, who tired and couldn’t finish the shots anymore.
    Mac became a better finisher. When needed most, Berger shifted into go-gear. Jaelyn came back healthy, with impact. Gulbe’s defensive presence kept NW mostly shooting jump shots, which came up short as they tired. Co-Hillary had a better 2nd half. The rests we bought with minutes from Waggoner et al. ended up mattering. Patterson had a positive play or two.
    I am excited to watch Maryland AT Ohio State tomorrow eve. If OSU at home can’t callenge Owusu&co., hard to see Mary losing in remaining regular season.
    Also, looking at schedule it would seem logical to bring-add MSU here on Thursday.

  4. It was great to see Penn back as she helped on both sides of the ball. It was obvious the Cats were not going to let Mack beat them and thats how it was for most of the first half. Mack had her own determination that she was not going to let that be the case in the second. For the most part early on IU looked like a team that had 11 days off but came out of that with a better defensive performance in the second half. Dont forget NW was co-big ten champs last season so this was a big win,,, got the monkey off our back” in a manner of speaking.

  5. If you are a Championship team you must win on the road in games like this! We played like the veteran team that we are in this game. Great to see Penn have a solid game when needed! Hate waiting for almost a week to play again. This has been a strange season to say the least? Go Hoosiers!!

  6. Post game per assistant coach. Holmes and team was challenged (trust Holmes to make good decisions and make inside shots stay poised) at half time to stay with game plan to go inside.

  7. More and More and especially B1G opponents number 1 defensive plan will be to hold Mack down as much as possible. Mack is getting double and triple teams , when its not there pass it back out and repost and send it back in. It will be that until IU proves they can score from outside . Surprisingly the Cats werent much better at 2 for 10 think IU was 2 for 11. On these games not on btn plus or btn you get to hear more unbiased comments from announcers especially in a big game like this in which IU made the strong effort to shut down the cats for 7-8 min. without a field goal and go from 13 down to win by 13 , what a great effort by this team against a ranked team on the road. Wouldnt mind seeing IU pick up another game mid-week because who knows for sure M. S. will be able to play come sunday. Go IU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. The reason in this game IU had size advantage inside. Plus IU Ladies ratcheted up defense and intensity following lead from coach.

  9. Now it’s OSU on Thursday, you’all’re right on it w/ the schedule add. After shaking the NW demon yesterday, last year’s OSU 4Q giveaway – as “t” reminds us – is another debt we could repay. OSU hosting Maryland tonight (ESPN 2) and then OSU coming here Thurs… followed by MSU here w/ Nia Clouden, will make this a telling week in BTN. For now, NW has been thrown off their horse into the second tier, of NW-Iowa-MSU and underperforming Rutgers… I’ve yet to catch on TV Iowa and their hi-scoring freshman or this year’s edition of MSU. (I view Nebraska-Purdue as top of a 3rd BTN tier.)
    If you haven’t seen this year’s OSU, Greene-Sheldon is a terrific 1-2 guard tandem and Juhasz vs Miller-Mary’s fowards will worth watching. But can anyone slow Owusu if it comes to crunch time? OSU was able to beat Michigan despite Hillman’s 50. Ironically, Naz missed a couple free throws in final minutes that might have been the game deciders. Just my take so far… OSU is a better Team and the bigger threat to us and to Maryland, than is Michigan.
    Thanks to the terrific Teams of ladies we’ve had ever since the first year of the Cahill-Tyra group, IU WBB is the wintertime’s most place to be!
    Note to self – remember to listen to Moren-GregMurray radio tonight 6:30 with
    player guest Alexa Gulbe.

  10. Maybe a little help from Ohio State tonight and then IU can help itself on thurs. Another fact Holmes had 35 min. against the Cats and was needed for every minute. Last year 20+ lbs heavier wouldnt have happened. As I look back on it though it was the team defense in that last 15 min. that turned the tide and allowed the IU come back win. Hope they can keep it up cause this big ten conf. is mighty tough this year with probably 10 teams deep that can beat you any night if you are not on your game.

  11. As I stated before, playing at home is NO advantage this year with no crowd noise to help you. all games are the same at home or on the road when there is no crowd in the stands!! Go Hoosiers!!

  12. Regarding home crowd, last year OSU overcame large IU crowd noise. Regardless, of crowd noise I still think there is a home court advantage even if it’s to a lesser extent. Feeling of playing on home court should be a positive.

  13. Something can be said for home court surroundings regardless of crowd, the place where you practice all the time with the lighting has to have a measure of comfort.

  14. I really believe we are overthinking this home court thingy? It’s like going to the Big10 tournament in Indy, unless you are playing IU or Purdue, there is no home court advantage due to a lack of crowd. You just go out and play the game mostly in front of a neutral crowd.

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