Slow start, fast finish propels IU women past VCU

Indiana sputtered out of the gate, but the fourth-seeded Hoosiers roared across the finish line with a 63-32 win over VCU in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Monday afternoon at the UTSA Convocation Center.

IU advances to play 12th-seeded Belmont, which upset fifth-seeded Gonzaga 64-59, in the second round on Wednesday. Game time to be determined.

The Hoosiers struggled offensively in the first half and settled for a five-point lead at halftime thanks to Grace Berger, who scored 13 of her game-high 20 points in the opening half.

“Our goal and my goal individually was to come out and get it going on offense early and that didn’t necessarily happen for us as a team,” Berger said. “At that moment, we just dug in on defense.”

Indiana methodically moved the advantage out to start the second half, going inside to Mackenzie Holmes (14 points) to key an 8-2 run capped by an Aleksa Gulbe 3-pointer. That put IU up 32-22 as the lead hit double digits for the first time.

It was 41-29 heading to the fourth quarter, and the Hoosiers (19-5) finished with a big flourish, outscoring VCU (16-11) 22-3 over the final 10 minutes. Ali Patberg scored 12 of her 17 points in the second half to spark the surge.

“It’s what we anticipated, getting off to a bit of a rocky start,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “It’s been a little over 10 days since we played last. I thought we figured out some things in the second half, our ball movement was much better.

“Defensively, we were locked in. I have no complaints with that side of the ball.”

Indeed, the Rams finished the game shooting just 23% from the field, committing 14 turnovers that led to 17 Hoosier points. A pair of lengthy droughts contributed to VCU’s futility as the No. 13 seed went scoreless for the final 4:56 of the second quarter and again were shutout for the final 5:09 as Indiana pulled away.

The 32 points allowed are the fewest ever by a Big Ten team in NCAA Tournament play.

16 comments

  1. Something positive for IU March Madness at least for 2 days. IU Ladies have to continue to score for complete games. Expect big scoring from Mac.

  2. Rusty start, close first half. Let loose second with 50% shooting. One thing I don’t like, that chest bumping as a celebration. Ouch. Geez somethings are worth taking care of.

  3. IU wasn’t the only upper seed to start slow. Louisville struggled early and was only up around 4 or 5 at half then eventually pulled away. Iowa didn’t shoot well to start and pulled it out. Idaho St. hung with Kentucky most of the game. Rutgers could never get on track. Arkansas and Gonzaga were slow out of the gate and never did recover. Maryland looks really good too. Their defense was stellar.

  4. I think the long lay off for all of the women’s teams showed in the first round.

  5. As someone remarked IU got a good draw and I agree, but they still have to come to play. Iowa gets Ky and Mich vs Tenn are not good draws. Tenn’s size will cause most teams trouble.

    1. On men’s side all the lower seeds beating high seeds and Gonzaga Ladies found out… talented low seeds will often give high seeds its best shot that will sometimes throw high seed off its game. The low seed who are often pretty good starts feeling good and confident creating upset win. So, maybe favorable draw or not IU Ladies still have to beat Belmont who just beat Gonzaga…Belmont 21-5 knows how to win and another Ohio Valley conference tournament champ.

  6. Pre-game interview T. Moren was ask by G.M. Why so many lower seeds winning beating high seeds in upsets in men’s tournament.
    T. Moren answer: for both, men and women…TAKE CARE OF THE BALL…that leads to shot selection…then play defense and make shots.

  7. High or low seed you still have to come to play. Some teams feel slighted about their seed so come with a little more aggression. Every team there is there for a reason, they are all very capable teams.

  8. ‘ Where was the SEC in WBB today? ‘

    Clark-Clark-Clark and Czinano dismantled UK … Michigan left UT flailing. I never woulda thunk it.

    We fans of B1G owe those two for preserving the B1G honor verus the SEC-ACC today. (A few of you will remember … RMK in the ALL-BTN Final versus Michigan – from his sideline crouch before tipoff, he called ACC loyalist Vitale over and, asked, “Hey, Dick, where the ( ) is the ACC?” )

    With Iowa smoking hot, the prime time made-for-TV matchup of Bueckers vs. Clark will happen. Sure to be a fun watch.

    We could not beat UK, or UT early this year. But now, a win Wednesday would have us playing against the 1 seed, NC State, in the Sweet Sixteen, a great accomplishment for this season.

    Our path is clear. Control the Belmont freshman guard Wells a lot better than we did Nia Clouden. Fouls are called more readily in these Tourney games. We can’t afford early foul trouble. Wells isn’t quite another Owusu yet, but certainly an exciting player who’s shown the ability to take over key possessions in the final minutes. Also, lest we forget, Belmont rolled Gonzaga with 11 steals on the way to 20 turnovers! (Admittedly, Gonzaga was not exactly built for ball control.)

    We can make Wednesday a second great day for the Big Ten! Hoo Hoo Hoosiers!

  9. 3 B1G teams have a chance to move on , the toughest appearing to be NW against #2 seed Louisville. Yes the Iowa and Mich wins are great for the B1G , showing the strength of the conf. Hope we can keep it going today. That Bueckers Clark matchup could be one for the ages.

  10. Iowa definitely has a chance…However, the difference will probably be that UCONN has more to throw at Iowa and Clark than Iowa has to throw at UCONN and Bueckers… Iowa is very well coached so no edge for UCONN there. Will Clark have an off game?

  11. Wouldnt be surprised to see Uconn put double teams on Clark wherever she is on the floor or at least pressure traps when she has the ball. I remember seeing teams do that to Howard of Ky.

  12. Just my opinion, Iowa is not the biggest challenge standing in front of Uconn, instead it is Maryland. Having said that if Iowa beats Uconn not sure its an upset, although others will differ.

  13. TV staff keep talking, just babbling. Ever now and then they mention who the foul is on. I’m just used to Gregg and 105.1.

    1. Or tell us the whistle was a turnover, but fail to specify what actually happened.

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