No. 14 IU women outlast No. 11 Michigan, 70-65

Indiana lost the rebounding battle.

The Hoosiers lost in second-chance points, fastbreak points and points in the paint.

But they won the game.

What No. 14 IU lacked in certain areas, it more than made up for with heart and sharpshooting to claim a 70-65 win over No. 11 Michigan on Thursday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“We all pulled through,” Indiana senior Ali Patberg said. “We’ll go back and watch film, what we did wrong, what we can do better. I don’t think it was that great. We got outrebounded, we didn’t shoot it great (37% from the field overall), we had eight turnovers, which isn’t bad. I don’t think it was the best game we’ve ever had, but we fought hard and battled to the end and we wanted it more. And we won.”

The Hoosiers (14-4, 12-2 B1G) emerged on the victorious end of a game that saw 17 lead changes, 11 in the first half, and marked their 37th straight win when holding an opponent to 65 points or less.

“I think we held them to enough to get the win,” Patberg said. “… We just had to hold them enough, and we did.”

But it didn’t hurt that Indiana also far exceeded the norm when it came to shooting the ball in two key areas — 3-pointers and free throws.

IU went 17-of-19 (.895) at the line, including a pair of free throws from Grace Berger that gave the Hoosiers the lead for good with 2:18 remaining.

Berger was 10-of-10 at the line and scored all 16 of her points in the second half as Indiana exceeded its season average of 71.9% on free throws.

Michigan was unable to match that production, especially down the stretch, twice splitting a pair of free throws.

Mackenzie Holmes, who struggled offensively for the second straight game, came up big on defense with a steal against Michigan’s Naz Hillmon with 29 seconds left, setting up two more Berger free throws for a 69-65 lead, matching IU’s largest advantage of the game.

Nicole Cardano-Hillary added another free throw with 16 seconds left to salt away the win.

“This one feels good,” IU coach Teri Moren said. “That’s a really good team that we have a lot of respect for, and looking at the stats, although there was a discrepancy in the rebounding margin — we went in thinking we needed to outrebound them to win the game, and sometimes that doesn’t hold true, especially when you can make shots.”

Indiana made shots from beyond the 3-point line at a 50% clip, going 9-of-18, well beyond its season average of 28.9%.

“I think Michigan came in here willing to allow us to try and beat them from the outside,” Moren said. “I still thought coming in Mack could get some looks (inside), but credit to Michigan, they were willing to risk it all to have it all by leaving some of our players open on the outside.”

The Hoosiers got production from a variety of sources, both expected and unexpected.

Patberg was 3-of-3 from long range en route to 17 of her team-high 21 points in the opening half, but she got help off the bench from freshman Chloe Moore-McNeil. The Sharon, Tenn., product came into the game just 2-of-22 from 3 on the season and hit 2-of-3 in the second quarter, including back to back shots to give Indiana the lead.

“It just takes confidence, and I love the confidence that she has,” Moren said. “She hasn’t shot it well (in games) but she has in practice, so we knew it was just a matter of time.”

Aleksa Gulbe, who had 13 points, also hit a pair of 3s in the first half as Indiana took a 37-35 halftime advantage. She hit another 3 in the second half as IU ultimately shot Michigan (12-2, 7-2) out of its zone defense while employing a little matchup zone of its own from time to time.

“It was terrific to see those long 3s go in for us tonight,” Moren said. “I’ve been here before where I say I still have confidence because we do it every day and we work. That’s why we keep shooting them.

“We’re not a zone team but we did sprinkle it in. … It was something different and I felt like we wanted to try to keep them off-balance, to put a shadow of a doubt what of what we’d be in, man or zone, and make their points guards think like they were making us think going man to zone and back to man. It’s just a really good game of chess over there on the sideline.”

But by the time all was said and done, both teams were simply in a knockdown, drag-out, physical battle for supremacy.

“You have to show up and be willing to go toe to toe with a team like Michigan, and if you don’t, you’ll be on the other side,” Moren said. “Our kids got the message the past two days that this game was not going to be for the meek and mild. If you’re going to win this game, you’re going to show up in a big way and a lot of it has to be between your ears and how you approach the game with our aggression and being OK with being physical. We stepped up to the challenge.

“Michigan hadn’t met Indiana and tonight they did for the first time this season and what they found is this is an Indiana team that wasn’t willing to let their physicality overwhelm us.”

And to that end, Indiana relentlessly pushed the pace of the game in an effort to wear down the Wolverines. At times it seemed as if it wasn’t working, but down the stretch the Hoosiers began to see some dividends.

“Every possession did matter, but I didn’t want to slow the pace down and go possession vs. possession,” Moren said. “I still wanted our kids to play free and get some hit-aheads, attacks at the rim. … You also have to have a tremendous amount of endurance and we have guards that’ll just sprint. That’s one of the advantages I think we’ve been able to have and hopefully something we can continue to do. It’s helped us in a lot of games.”

The Wolverines carried a 52-51 lead to the fourth quarter and quickly got in the bonus thanks to five fouls on IU in the first four and a half minutes of the frame, but they couldn’t shake the Hoosiers, who never trailed in the final seven minutes before taking the lead on Berger’s free throws.

Some stingy defense preserved the advantage as Michigan had no made field goals in the final 3:48.

After going down four following Holmes’ steal, the Wolverines tried to execute a backdoor lob to Naz Hillmon (23 points, 12 rebounds) from midcourt for a quick layup, but Gulbe batted the pass out of bounds. Akienreh Johnson then had to settle for a contested 3 that rattled out before the rebound was batted out of bounds off of Indiana with nine seconds left.

The ensuing baseline inbounds pass went whistling past everyone as the clock started running, and by the time Johnson retrieved the ball in the backcourt, she could only let fly with a halfcourt heave.

“The coaches kept telling us it was winning time,” Patberg said. “The fourth quarter came and we were down, we just had to get one stop at a time. That’s what we kept telling each other, one stop, one rebound at a time and that’s what we did. We did whatever it took to win tonight.”

The win moves Indiana into second place alone in the Big Ten race, one game behind first-place Maryland, and the Hoosiers are now off until they play at Wisconsin next Wednesday after the conference moved Sunday’s home game with Iowa to March 3 for rescheduling purposes.

27 comments

  1. Giving up to many Michigan offensive rebounds, making free throws, making 3 ball, slumping Mac, and couple nice 3 balls from Chloe, effort, toughness, effort, taking care of ball, defense, along with Patberg, Gulbe, Berger, Nik, Kiandra, Wag, Key, the rest of team, really good coaching, and home gym = IU Ladies Win.

    1. Way above holding serve I’d say. 🙂
      One of the best games I’ve seen in a LONG time, and especially proud of how hard the ladies fought. Even though Mac had trouble shooting around Hillman, she was really tough at the end of the game when she needed to be very physical.
      All in all, a GREAT WIN for our Hoosiers.
      GO IU!

      1. Overall: No big ten championship regular season or tournament, no sweet sixteen championship. IU Ladies have won big games before….so they are still holding and protecting serve. I will go along with continued steady improvement…Not way above holding serve. However, it was an excellent excellent win (one of the top 5 under T.Moren) and showed much promise for IU Ladies because of the way they played and executed finishing the game. Sure does help making shots including free throws. IU Ladies came through for coach as she has stated especially at beginning of season that IU Ladies have shooters on the team.

  2. Great and important win for the Hoosiers. It was the most physical I’ve seen the team in a couple of years and the officiating was lousy against both teams. Still a great grind out win! I think they’re well positioned for the tournament.

  3. When coaches admit it’s a “big game,” it’s a BIG game.
    Lisa Byington was into it and analyst Christy W-Scott was loving the rough and tumble smack popaloopa downright knockdown dragout FIGHT.
    We shot the ball like a top 16 team playing at home should shoot it (for a change), especially the three’s. Those two timely first half 3’s from Chloe M-McNeil were a gift from afar, leading to a total of nine 3’s out of 18 tries for the game.
    Alipat played like an awards nominee, and the leader we all want her to be every game. Alexa had a solid game inside and out at both ends, Mac’s defense stiffened against Naz in the 2nd half, and she “fought like hell” as every possession mattered, even the tie-ups. Browne contributed in the bullyfighting. Nikki’s shot was off, and she had trouble finishing amongst the trees inside, but she was solid in ball control and movement. Berger went into her patented 2nd half full-grit locked-jaw mode and took over the finishing of the game for us.
    It was a rewarding TEAM win if ever there was one.
    Come tourneys and seeding, do not overlook Rutgers.

  4. As I watched the game live early on the one thing that stood out was that we were being out rebounded , we werent able to block out , but on the other hand we were shooting the 3 at a good clip,, per Ali and Chloe and thank goodness they were. Once again Mack found that she was #1 on the opponents defensive game plan hoping IU would continue to shoot poorly from the 3 , but not on this night. The hoosiers were ready mentally and physically for this challenge. There was no home crowd advantage to inspire their team, this was man’o man’o to the very end. I was very proud of this teams grit on this night and so proud to say Im a hoosier fan. Go IU!!!

  5. You can see the importance of Mack to this team. Once she gets the ball in the paint, 4 other IU players are open. She did look tired toward the end. 50% threes and 89% foul shots. Every player did their thing. Except for the L Michigan is a strong team. Good Job Ladies.

  6. Yes thats the one thing Mack needs to work on, when they are zoning and collapsing 3 or 4 people on her , feel it and get the ball to the open player on the wing, eventually she will get that. But for now its only the better teams in conf. that can do that to Mack,, the Marylands and Mich. and Ohio States. On the other side of things Maryland looks so much like a final 4 team.

  7. Maryland and Frese are tough combination Queen of the big ten…then there is the next group of teams in big ten with IU Ladies in that group.

  8. Appears IU will move up again in the coaches poll top ten as they were 12th this week. Probably not in the AP, maybe 11 or 12.

  9. How big was Berger’s 10 for 10 at the free throw line. This game was so tight in that final stretch Berger hit 6 of her 10 in that final stretch and Mich. only hit 50% of theirs in that stretch and that’s why IU pulled out the win.

  10. Two thoughts one officiating needs to get better. 3 refs and no one saw the blatant shove of Dilk on Hillary. Second that Nikki so frustrates opponents that they result in shoving her to the floor. Too bad more IU players arent able to do that.

    1. Yes, making ft’s has to be a tough IU Ladies mindset for them to be competitive against top ten teams increasing winning odds greatly. (IU Ladies are not good enough to overcome poor to average ft shooting against the good to best teams).

  11. They did mainly to see if there was anything to the head as there was no live call on the shove they couldnt do anything.

  12. Congrats to IU women for moving up to #11 in the AP poll highest ever in program history. Since they were 12th in the coaches poll last week I would expect them to move up to possibly top ten in that poll.

  13. Check me if Im wrong but it appears Chloe McNeil has changed her shot. It used to be the huge arching rainbow but against Mich. appeared to be just a medium arc shot. If thats what it took I say keep doing it.

  14. How do you know when the banners have hit bottom?

    Answer: When we’re talking about arching rainbows in our women’s hoops.

    1. IU Ladies hung last banner. NIT and yes it counts just like when B.K. won some kind of defunct Commowealth or something tournament… on his way to 3 March Madness tournament banners, big ten championships and Olympic gold.

      1. The NIT variety and the rest only ‘count’ if you’ve won the big ones. You’re sounding like a Purdue fan….

  15. Sure IU Ladies and coaches are working on shooting through out season and players making adjustments as needed. Maybe, it’s starting to pay off plus making ft’s. However, I don’t know anything specifically about Chloe or anyone else except they looked better. The question is can they sustain it.

  16. Hopefully we are getting better as the season is winding down. Only Wisky, Ohio State, Iowa, and PU are left on schedule. No time left apparently to make up any other ppd games.

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