No. 16 IU women surge past Spartans, 79-67

Via Stefan Krajisnik of the Indianapolis Star

Teri Moren doesn’t need to tell Ali Patberg to do things like this anymore.

Moren, both publicly and privately, has challenged Patberg to be the leader of the Indiana women’s basketball program on numerous occasions. So when Moren hears this story following a 79-67 win against Michigan State on Sunday, she’s not surprised.

“It tells you exactly who Ali is,” Moren said. “She has a really good feel — she has a really good pulse on her teammates and what they bring.”

Patberg noticed that as Indiana’s (10-4, 8-2 Big Ten) hot start dwindled away against Ohio State on Thursday, the energy was missing from the sideline. So Patberg pulled freshman forward Kiandra Browne aside before the game and challenged her to be the one to provide the juice for the team.

“If you’re on the floor or off the floor, we need you to bring energy constantly,” Patberg told her. “Energy is contagious.”

Browne, who missed practice Saturday and was a game-time decision Sunday, was nursing a hip injury. As the game started, she was on a stationary bike — still shouting and motivating her teammates.

As she prepared to check in to the game, she continued stretching that hip. Yet when she was on the court, she was getting in front of defenders and drawing charges to get her teammates going.

“This kid wants to win,” Moren said of Browne. “She wants to win more than anything, and she wants to help her team more than anything. She’s willing to do whatever you ask her to do and not bat an eye.”

Browne’s energy, particularly on the defensive end, was crucial in No. 16 Indiana coming back from a slow start on Sunday.

Moren said postgame that Michigan State (9-4, 4-4) was hitting everything in the first half, and she wasn’t totally wrong. The Spartans shot nearly 70 percent from the field in the first half.

Indiana tried switching to a zone to start the second half, but Michigan State kept answering with 3s. Eventually, Indiana took a note out of what Ohio State did at Assembly Hall just a few days before.

The Hoosiers’ guards started crashing down on the Spartans’ bigs, forcing turnovers and letting that lead to transition offense.

“Just trying to have some activity around the ball when the low-post players were catching it,” Moren said of the defensive strategy. “We didn’t do a very good job in the first half of doing that. Michigan State’s post players seemed extremely comfortable.”

Though Indiana lost the turnover battle, it still forced 14 turnovers and scored 14 points off them.

The combination of aggressive defense with up-tempo offense is what Moren stresses every day, and it led to Indiana outscoring Michigan State by 20 points in the second half after trailing by double digits on numerous occasions in the first.

“Halftime is about adjustments, and our kids adjusted,” Moren said.

Moren expressed her disappointment with the team’s play against Ohio State on Thursday, noting how little contribution she got from players other than Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes.

But Sunday it was a full effort with four starters scoring in double figures — Berger was the only one not to, but she finished with nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Along with Browne, Nicole Cardano-Hillary added seven points off the bench to go with flashes from players such as Keyanna Warthen and Danielle Patterson.

“Our bench was really good tonight,” Moren said. “When you have your starters being able to score and there’s balance there, and then you have help from your bench because you can rest some of those guys … that’s a good thing. I was really pleased with the help that our starters got.”

The win was the 800th in IU program history — 137 of which have come under Moren.

Patberg, who spent time at Notre Dame before coming to IU, said that it is every girl’s dream to come play collegiately at Indiana.

Holmes noted how the program has grown since she started getting recruited about five years ago and how she remembered from early discussions with Patberg that there was true belief in where the program could go.

Other teammates such as Browne are starting to buy in as well, and for Moren, the goals are only getting bigger.

“It means a lot, but we have our sights always set so high in this program,” Moren said. “We continue to chase after a championship. We continue to chase after the opportunity to be in the NCAA Tournament and to make a deep run. That’s what our program has been about.”

22 comments

  1. Are the shooting 3 ball and free throws a head game? Are the IU Ladies good but just not that good?
    Against the better teams Ky, TN, Mary, OSU…Do IU Ladies feel there is lesser room for error meaning nerves and undue pressure put on themselves rather than confident laser focus like Steve Alford, Bird and others had. Though argument could be made maybe because of better defenses…however against lesser teams like MSU IU Ladies feel there is more room for error and IU Ladies feel they can still beat teams like MSU. Therefore, IU Ladies shoot with better focus and with more confidence against lesser teams like MSU…though you wouldn’t have known that during half number 1.

  2. Post game assistant coach interview noted something to the effect that IU Ladies were in the gym so much that kicking them out of gym could help their shooting.

  3. t,
    I absolutely played the same head game myself. Couldn’t help but notice how confident the ladies looked when the three ball left their hands, especially in the second half. Was it because the MSU defense wasn’t QUITE as good as against the real powerhouse teams we’ve plyaed, or was it just because a few went in and they started feelin’ it.
    But either way, I have never been happier than I was to see a lady’s team score 47 points in a half against a good BigTen team.
    Found Wierzba’s post-game remarks interesting as well.
    Waiting for others to comment as to what they think changed in the second half (Wierzba’s comments were very good I thought), but I can’t recall a team turning a game around so drastically for a while.
    GO IU!

  4. T, that’s exactly what I said after the last game. When we play the really good teams we are, it seems in over our collective heads. When we play the rest of the league we are really good! What does this mean? We are an above average team that wins games against average teams and struggles against the good ones, it’s not rocket science. This simply means we are not where we want to be. I mentioned last week that we are not good enough mentally. As I has said, we have the talent athletically but, we lack mental toughness! We need a class in phycology for the girls to develop a strong mental approach to games. This team as talented as it is will never be where we want them to be until we maintain a stronger mental approach! Go Hoosiers!!

  5. My question centers around…The best teams make you pay when shots and free throws are missed at a fast pace. This creates mental higher pressure for IU Ladies to make shots therefore causing them to miss shots. MSU and lower level teams don’t create that same kind of pressure to make shots because IU Ladies are good enough to still win games in different ways. Therefore, IU Ladies are more relaxed and confident to make shots even free throws. (best teams are probably a little better defensively). However, to many times IU Ladies missed shots were not caused by the best teams defense nor was missed free throws.

  6. Agree, Mike C. and Nat.
    B.K. Always said something to the effect that basketball is a ratio of 4 parts mentally to 1 part physically.
    Of course B.K. did have physical talent to back it up. Other teams also had physical talent but were under achievers because of mental toughness.
    Most times effort, defense, and overall play is really pretty good. If IU Ladies made more shots and free throws they may be undefeated or maybe only one loss.

  7. Oddball question.
    We’re in “fourth” place at 8-2, half a game out.
    Michigan is in “third” place at 5-1, game and a half out.
    They have yet to play Maryland.
    Apparently the Big10 is using win percentages as the method of sorting it all out, and maybe that’s fair.
    It just seems odd to be half a game out and yet behind a team who is a game and a half out.
    Seems almost a good strategy to not play as many games.
    Is this a Covid thing or is that how it’s usually done?

  8. Nat—Interesting thought and who knows how this will all work out. Take for instance Rutgers makeup game with IU on thurs if it happens, they have ppd their last 7 games and are 1-3 in conf. but only lost to Maryland by 4 pts as did IU. Will they be rusty and everyone knows of their heralded “55” defense. Hopefully all games can be made up but if they cant and everyone doesnt play the same amount games how will it be handled. At least guess it will all work out in the B1G tourney, but once again will there be fair seeding if all games dont get played.

  9. Steve W.
    I just hope they don’t move the Big10 women’s tournament out of Indy. Really crowded place all of a sudden.
    As stir crazy as this pandemic has made me, if I get both of my Covid injections in time, I may DRIVE to wherever they move the tourney just to get out of the house! I’ve heard rumors it may be moved to Texas, which I’ll bet would let people watch the games.
    Unless of course the Big10 intervenes. 🙁
    GO IU!

  10. Nat, I have heard that the Women’s national tournament may be played in San Antonio. I have not heard anything about the Big 10 tournament being played in Texas? No matter where it is played the bigger question is will they allow any attendance in the facility?? Haven’t heard yet that there will be any attendance? We will see?

  11. Though I think IU Ladies NIT games were home court advantage IU Ladies have played some good games away…South Carolina and Texas games are examples.

  12. Mike C,
    That’s probably what I heard. NCAA tournament, not BigTen. 🙁
    I just wish the Big10 would join the rest of the world and allow a reasonable number of spectators in huge indoor arenas. I’m a big Covid Chicken, but I’m about to get my first Covid shot tomorrow and I’m ready to see the women PLAY!
    GO IU!

  13. Well great, Jeremy just reported Rutgers can’t play tonight.
    What a mess this season has become.
    As my daughter used to say, “Bummer City!”
    GO IU!

  14. No Rutgers, again. “PP’D.” IOWA@OSU leaves one good TV watch.
    At least there’s still a competitive game to watch, today, IOWA at OSU.
    If you’ve not seen IA’s Caitlin Clark, she makes IA well worth the watch.
    Great shooter, speedy long-strided anteloper, who passes the ball
    accurately off the run with one hand consistently. Has some similarities with UCONN’s
    frosh Paige Buecker.
    With power player Csinzano in low post, IA just needs a little more out of
    their supporting cast to be another top 16 – 20 team.

  15. PPD– That is now 8 games in a row Rugers has had to ppd, no way they can make up those games. Now that IU has been preparing for Rutgers has to quickly turn it around and prepare for the Hawkeyes on sunday.

  16. Yes big time BUMMER! for IU fans . Yes I too have looked at the lineup of games ,,, guess thursday is Women’s day and there some worth a watch. IU women now preparing for the Iowa game. Yes Clark is a freshman Phenom.

  17. Any thoughts on the Iowa game on sunday . Agreed home court this season is not what it once was, still the hawkeyes have a good record there not used to losing. Face it the terps and the buckeyes are still better than the rest. The hungarian makes the difference for the bucks. Then the next tier of teams IU, Iowa, Mich. NW. Sunday’s game looks like a great matchup, TO’S and foul problems could make the difference. Looking forward to it. Go Hoosiers!!

  18. It took OSU in OT to finally break Iowa’s home wins streak of 30+. Then @NW, Clark got in foul trouble early, had to sit, then had a strong 2nd 1/2, but were edged out by a dynomite game by NW led by terrific guard Burton.
    IU had outlasted a tired NW, but it seemed to me Iowa tired against NW in Q4, while Burton took over every time NW was threatened.
    This IA team needs solid performances from both Clark and Czinano to win. AT OSU, Clark played abit out-of-control and selfish; jacked up 3’s too early in shot clocks and was misfiring. Czinano and now-healthy Juhasz kinda neutralized each other inside. OSU simply has better balance, more weapons than Iowa’s 2-stars-dominated team.
    If either Mac/Gulbe or Czinano gets into foul trouble, it could be a game decider. Browne will have to spell and help Gulbe defend Czinano. Mac will not be able to dominate Czinano, so we will need to shoot a better % than our usual, and make our free throws.
    We have to expect “return-to-home-cooking” performances from both Clark and Czinano. Expect those two, at home, to account for 50 points. This will be a very tough road game for us to win, but a valuable, almost necessary one, if we want to beat out Michigan and OSU for 2nd behind Maryland in the B1G regular season.

  19. I was thinking the same thing about Clark firing away when she could have sent it inside to Czinano who was well posted several times. We shall see how it goes.

  20. So IU will have their chances to show if they are an elite team or not , today at Iowa and coming up soon will be Mich. No excuses if they lose they are not yet good enough as a team in the B1G. Our conf. just happens to be top to bottom .. toughest in the land .

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