No. 9 IU women make early exit in Indy

Via Stefan Krajisnik of the Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS — Just as soon as Indiana could get to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to see the “MARCH IS ON” banners filling the arena for the Big Ten Tournament, its run in the women’s conference tournament was over.

Thursday night’s 69-61 loss to seventh-seeded Michigan State ended the Hoosiers’ stay in the quarterfinals — which was Indiana’s first game after earning a double-bye as the No. 2 seed and No. 9 team in the nation.

Riding a nine-game winning streak that began with a win against Michigan State on Jan. 31, Indiana walked out with a gut-check on what can happen when postseason play begins — and the team owned up to it postgame.

“We have to get a lot better,” senior guard Ali Patberg said. “Sadly, this is going to be a wake-up call for us, and we’re going to get better.”

The Hoosiers (18-5) relied on their defense in the first half when the offense wasn’t going, though the two often go hand-in-hand for a team that likes to push in transition.

IU forced 12 turnovers in the first half, but a combination of its own mistakes and poor shooting took Indiana into halftime with a 34-26 lead that coach Teri Moren said likely should have been larger.

“We missed too many free throws and too many layups,” Moren said. “I think we have a bigger lead at half if we just do those two fundamental things. There were times our spacing wasn’t very good. We didn’t get side-to-side attacks.”

Out of the gates in the second half, Michigan State (15-7) — led by Nia Clouden — cleaned up its own mistakes and made Indiana play catch-up.

The Spartans started the second half on a 9-0 run to take the lead, and after trading buckets, Moren says IU began to lose the composure it showed time and time again this season.

“I thought tonight we were pressing a little,” Moren said.

The Hoosiers closed the game shooting 43 percent from the field, 11-of-18 from the line with 17 turnovers — tied for the most it has had in a game this season.

Moren said she didn’t want to make excuses for her team, but she mentioned the difficulty of teams not being able to have the usual morning shootaround at the arena to adjust to the environment.

“We walk here, and we have an hour on the floor and that’s it,” Moren said. “I’m not saying that’s why we missed those, but the facility, the rim, the environment, the balls — would have been nice to spend maybe 30-35 minutes in here prior to us playing.”

Aside from Grace Berger, Indiana’s guards struggled to get into a groove throughout the game on both ends and foul trouble didn’t help. Nicole Cardano-Hillary, an uber-aggressive on-ball defender for Indiana, picked up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter while Berger, Patberg and forward Aleksa Gulbe dealt with their own foul issues as well.

That allowed Clouden to assert herself into the game, attacking the paint time after time on her way to her third 30-plus point performance of the season.

“Clouden started finding her groove and the basket probably looked a lot larger than it was because she was feeling it,” Moren said. “We didn’t have an answer for her.”

Indiana was playing in front of a pro-IU crowd of 2,500 people for the first time this season, and the energy appeared to give the Hoosiers some hope late in the game.

Trailing 57-50 out of a time out with six minutes to go, the fans began cheering and propelled an IU run led by Patberg to cut the deficit to 59-56. Patberg then got an open look from the corner to tie the game, but she came up short and the team did not have another run left in it.

“It makes me sick to my stomach that we performed like that in front of them,” Patberg said. “We had a bunch of fans show out tonight and support us. We’re thankful they were there, but frustrating how we performed for them. I can tell you we’re going to be a lot better from this. This sucks right now.”

Indiana knows where it will be headed next as the entirety of the women’s NCAA Tournament will be held in San Antonio, but where the team will sit in the bracket will be revealed on Monday. In the most recent projections before the loss, Indiana was a 3-seed.

Disappointment from failure to meet expectations in the conference tournament didn’t linger long as Moren said her squad had already discussed what it needs to do in the next week to prepare for whatever opponent lies ahead.

“There’s no doubt they’re disappointed,” Moren said. “I have one of the most competitive groups in the locker room I’ve ever had. They’re disappointed yet looking forward to what’s next.”

20 comments

  1. Simply stated, pretty much sums it up. Plus, MSU Clouden got laser focused at halftime and seen a couple shots go down, gained confidence and got into a non disturbed winning mindset zone. This type of play that has happened to IU Ladies in past years and and against TN and KY this year (kinda see it coming…leads should have been a little larger but opponents hang in game) and opponents with a player or two are able to take it to IU Ladies and IU Ladies break…confidence dwindles, mental toughness dwindles, missing shots, ineffective defense, TURNOVERS match season high…things that for a 9 game run IU Ladies were pretty good at. IU Ladies played very average tonight which gave MIchigan State Ladies an opportunity and they took it. IU Ladies play in second half was just so ineffective.
    (A J. Penn Penn or Yeaney may have helped guard Clouden because of physicality…type of game where losing a player hurts…However, many other games were won without them).

  2. IU Ladies are really good…but just…not quite has good as thought to be…(not dominate enough to play very average to below average when opponents up their game or play well and still win especially in big games or tournament games).

  3. They’re missing shooters and they have scoring droughts during games that are hard to understand giving their inside out game this was very disappointing, i thought they were better than that i think they could be a first round upset special if they don’t get it together soon

  4. One bad game does not a season make.
    IU finished SECOND in the highly competititve BigTen and had won 9 games in a row against quality teams to finish the regular season. They were 16 and 2, only losses to Maryland (a final four possibility) and Ohio State early. This IS a special team, gloombirds.
    I went to the game last night, and it was just one of those games where every important shot seemed to hit the rim three times and bounch out for us, and every big shot for them managed to fall through.
    The Big10 tournament has never been kind to IU men or women.

    You do realize seeds 1, 5, 6, and 7 are left alive in the tournament, right? I’m not sure the double byes are all that advantageous. Certainly not a strange gym for MSU after playing Wednesday.
    Ask Rutgers, Michigan, IU and even Maryland about the “advantages” of their hard earned byes. Only Maryland remains alive after favored Rutgers, Michigan and IU all lost. Maryland beat a rather average Nebraska team (with a losing Big10 record) by only 10 points. Nebraska was ahead 60-57 lead with 8:55 left. Nebraska lost to Maryland by 22 in Nebraska during the regular season.
    I’m willing to cut my team some slack.

    Onward and upward.
    GO IU!

  5. Yes, T. Moren eludes (she was not making excuse) to no practice time on the floor. However, IU did lead first half but then MSU did have one game plus half of second game to get acclimated. my opinion is Maryland had trouble but won nor does a UCONN or such team lose that game. I also think IU will do well in March Madness tournament (sweet 16 team).

  6. My .02 cents worth (and maybe somewhat over valued). I would have liked to see IU win this one and a loss on the next – not a big deal. Either way this gives the Ladies a chance for a short rest, practice and stew over the loss before the real tourney starts.

  7. To me IU never looked right even in the first half even with a lead, looked rusty missing way too many free throws so yes they could have had a bigger lead, but got outplayed badly in the second half . As has been said IU does not have much in the way of outside shooters. Their game is defense and transition. On the other side of things I dont doubt this team going forward, just might be a good wake up call. But I heard Gregg Murray say they wont play again for 9 days , is that correct?

  8. The NCAA starts next week, the rest will help the team more than additional games in Big Ten tourney, their seeding in the NCAA is determined.

  9. OMG, Moren is actually whining about lack of practice on this floor, really?? IU is a veteran team full of players who have “been here and done that” before. Come on coach, very weak excuse? They simply got outplayed in the second half and that is it! Very disappointed that the veteran leadership on this team let this happen? I thought we were better than this? I have made the statement of to many turnovers being an achilles heel for this team a couple of times before this year! This team can be on occasion very careless with their ball handling. And yesterday, it was the one of the big differences in the game. Michigan St. scored 18 points off of IU’s turnovers which turned out to be another huge difference in the game. Another notable difference in the game was bench points, IU had 0 as opposed to 13 from Michigan St’s. bench players. All of these factors were the main contributors to the IU defeat. Brownbomber hit the nail on the head. We are not a very good shooting team! I have stated that fact several times throughout the season. We shot poorly from the floor and at the free throw line and it cost us greatly! They were 21 for 28 (75%) from the free throw line and we were 11 for 18 (61%). Need I say more? Yes, they shot several more free throws that we did but, that is because they took the ball to the basket causing fouls. After a very exciting and successful regular season we fall flat on our face in the tournament 🙁 Again, I thought this team lead by so many veterans would have a much better mental approach? Not to step on anyone’s toes but, I would have thought that the heart and soul and undisputed leader of our team (Ali) would not let this happen! Ali had 6 assists and 5 turnovers. The 6 assists are impressive but, the 5 turnovers are way to many for the leader of this team. Again, our carelessness with the ball is unwarranted! This team will not go far in the “Big Dance” if we continue to be so careless with the rock? This team is good enough to make a very nice run in the dance if they are taking care of the ball! We can beat anyone in the country if we take care of the ball, it’s not that hard! Our carelessness has to stop if we are to be successful in the dance! Go Hoosiers!!

  10. Attitude, energy, and composure or lack of it…

    We looked as though we began by thinking… records say we are supposed to win this game, and tougher Rutgers and the Maryland monster loom, so let’s show up but save some energy. If we have to, we can step it up as needed, because after all, we got away with a lot of coasting against Illinios and Wisconsin and Purdue recently.

    As MSU played with more refuse-to-lose energy when it mattered, we got away from our system of hi-energy defense, out-running in transition, screening and ball reversal. Instead, under pressure, unable to ourrun them or feed the post, we resorted to putting our head down and driving straight-line, out-of-control into traffic at the rim. That and rushing shots are not always panic, all it takes is a little lack of composure.

    61 points will not beat the top half of the B1G teams. Shooting cures a lot of ills, but our quiver is sparse to a fault, leaving us to face zones that dare us to shoot over them, and leaving us no room to play below, outside, our strengths.

  11. MSU loss even more disappointing as Iowa beats MSU solidly. Didn’t IU Ladies have anyone to guard Clouden?27 second half points? Nevertheless, Maryland Ladies rule big ten and I doubt if that changes in near future years.

  12. Nia Clouden is a capital T athletic Talent who can create her own shot, whenever motivated.
    With Nik in foul trouble, we had little chance to stay in front of her, and we did not get a hand in her face as we gave her the outside to try to stop her from driving past us. Yet we had an 8 point lead after a poorly played first half by both teams, so we could have survived Clouden’s 2nd half hot streak if we’d scored the ball close to our potential.

    It’s not a single, dominant player who beats you. Earlier, Michigan got 50 from Hillman… and lost to OSU. Iowa’s Clark averages near 30, but she alone does not beat you, not without major scoring help from Czinano and others.
    In a low scoring game, I watched it as UConn’s Paige Bueckers did single handedly take over the offense late to beat South Carolina. (She’s also a ball hawk.) But Buecker’s, despite scoring her team’s last 12 points in an OT game, still had to have her big post on defense to neutralize the scoring of South’lina’s big post and challenge the driving point guard.

    In the Iowa-Mary B1G final, I will be interested to see if the second highest scoring team in the nation, Iowa, tries to slow the game aganst the highest scoring, Maryland, reducing the score by the numbers of possessions and potential rebounds. After all, Iowa tried to run and outscore Maryland earlier and lost 111 to 91. Northwestern tried earlier to slow-walk Maryland but got overwhelmed with Maryland’s size-length-strength at both ends. Iowa is improving, but so is Maryland as the Terps work in ankle-recovered 6”5’ Angel Reese.

    Maryland, as we used to say years ago, is a team that will get noticed walking through airports.

    I’ve not seen Stanford but I like the Terps’ chances to win it all in the NCAA.

  13. Very good analysis… yes Maryland I have noticed can play in any way opponents try to play. One of the best teams with one of the best coaches who has ability to fire up players/teams when she sees things going south.

  14. Her strong suit is recruiting, and past success gives her a great advantage in that area.
    Remember, they beat IU by 4 points.

  15. I Remember, IU Ladies have yet to beat Maryland Ladies. It should happen someday but Maryland has another gear every game and opponents in big ten seldom match that gear or when they do fall a little short.

  16. I think that loss was the best thing that can happen to the IU ladies…hear me out. They will still get a decent seed in the dance and this team, which may be the most cohesive in the country are going to work extra hard and they are MAD about that loss. I will stay with my prediction about them being an Elite 8 team in the tournament (Final 4 is a stretch but not impossible). They are so focused, so determined and I still think Coach Moren is a better game tactician than most. Watch for a blow out against who they play in round 1. Just knowing these girls as well as I do….there will be some fire in that first game and throughout the dance.

  17. Sorry Moren make all the excuses you want but you didnt have them ready for Mich. St. Even with a first half lead still looked flat and in the second half even flatter. I have said many times I believe the terps are a final 4 team and I also believe this IU team is a very possible sweet 16 team provided they dont showup like they did on thursday. IU can beat any team in the country on a given day , but it is their lack of 3 pt shooting which throws a kink into their efforts against the really good teams. In the second half when they were down were afraid to even attempt a 3. They kept trying to drive in the paint and get fouled for a 3 in the old fashioned way.

  18. IU’s lack of 3 point shooting is a result of poor recruiting! In todays game you have to be able to shoot the 3 in order to compete at the highest level. Either you have shooters or you don’t, and we don’t!! It is up to the coaches to recruit girls who can shoot the ball from distance. This falls on Moren’s shoulders! Our perimeter shooting has been suspect all year long. We are good enough to beat most teams but, when we play the really good teams we have to be able to hit from distance and we are lacking in that area. again, you have to RECRUIT shooters! Go Hoosiers!!

  19. IU Ladies already have 3 point shooters good enough to beat half the teams they play and sometimes shoot well enough to beat the upper half. However, IU Ladies are way to inconsistent to be any kind of dominant or beat the top teams consistently…which brings me to Recruiting is kinda a two way street. I think T. Moren recruits the best shooters (shooters also have to have ability to play) that she has been able to get. The problem is recruiting has been a challenge for IU Ladies and T. Moren including getting top shooters. Those players have to be willing to sign with IU but they elect to go elsewhere. On the positive side IU Ladies coaching staff and T. Moren have been creative to get the players they have. IU Ladies are competitive in big ten and before T. Moren IU Ladies were not even competitive. I agree more dependable consistent shooters that can play the whole game at a high level are needed. Those players are called UCONN, Maryland, and etc. Even Iowa has shooters but still as a team are no better than IU Ladies though that MSU loss was inexcusable. Pre-game interview T. Moren said IU Ladies were healthy including Brown was available when needed and ready to play…We can all disagree.

  20. t pretty much hit it on the head, IU can recruit shooters or try to but they go elsewhere. Moren has done a great job of bringing this program up from the cellar, but still hasnt shown enough to bring in those much desired pure shooters. Have yet to win a big ten regular or tourney and have not gotten past the second round in the dance , perhaps that will happen this year. Still dragging that very heavy sled up the hill.

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