Hoosiers won’t finish quietly

A Kim Roberson steal

Monday’s win at home over No. 18 Ohio State puts Indiana into a three-way tie for fourth in the Big Ten standings. The Hoosiers (16-12, 9-7) trail the Buckeyes, Iowa, and Purdue, and are locked with Michigan and Minnesota, who they meet in Minneapolis on Thursday. The top five seeds in the conference tournament get a first-round bye, so that’s something to shoot for, and every projection I’ve seen has four teams from the Big Ten making the NCAA Tournament, so that definitely is too.

“I think a couple of teams in our conference are going to have to win the conference tournament to go to the NCAA Tournament,” said OSU coach Jim Foster. “I mean, that’s a fact and we’re certainly not a lock.”

JORI DAVIS is back with the team, playing 33 minutes after missing 12 games with a stress fracture. Those minutes include the last 16:30 of the game (including the overtime), when coach Felisha Legette-Jack went with the same five of Davis, Jamie Braun, Kim Roberson, Amber Jackson, and Whitney Thomas.

“The synergy was working,” said Legette-Jack. “The energy was great, and it turned into synergy, and that group had a rhythm out there.”

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Davis stole the show in the overtime, making two clutch offensive plays and then getting a steal to help lock down the win. After the game, she said she wasn’t worried about what would happen in her first action since Jan. 6, but was just juiced up on energy that she hoped to spill onto her teammates.

“I’m good, 100 %. I’m healthy,” Davis said, invoking this response from Coach Jack sitting next to her: “Good answer. You’re a pro at this.”

Senior Marscilla Packer scored the first seven points of the overtime for Ohio State, and when she hit a 3 in Davis’s eye for a 59-58 lead, it looked like she said something to the IU frosh. But, Davis denied that having anything to do with her heroics just moments later.

“No words said. She hit it, and I was just like, OK. She’s a good player, so you expect that from good players.”

The Hoosiers found themselves in a 10-point hole with 7:41 to play in regulation. The comeback was aided by seven consecutive points by Jamie Braun as well as a 7 minute, 12 second scoring drought by Ohio State (20-7, 11-5) and the disqualification by fouls of forward Tamarah Riley, who left the game with 2:38 left in regulation and 15 points and 16 boards to her credit.

“Our goal was to not look at the score, just keep plugging away, continue to stay battle-ready for the entire 40 minutes and at the end of the game, if we keep it close, we got a shot,” said Coach Jack. “If we would have started looking at the score and panicking over that, we would have taken ourselves out of it.”

At the end of regulation, the Hoosiers had the ball with 29 seconds left, and it looked like they were just going to shoot it without drawing anything up. But Coach Jack called for a timeout with 10 ticks left, and afterwards, it was Whitney Thomas who took a tough, almost underhanded shot from the middle of the lane. The ball was knocked out of bounds by OSU, and Davis fired an airball 3 from the right corner.

Legette-Jack said she changed the play at the last moment, wanting a screen pick to free up Braun on her strong right side. But Braun passed it to Thomas instead, who did what she thought was necessary in the situation.

“We just did some things there that we invented on our own,” Legette-Jack joked.

Amber Jackson shot 4-of-15 from the field, but was praised for her defensive efforts in the post by Coach Jack. And, last but by no means least, Kim Roberson scored 15 points, five in the overtime, and hit two big-time free throws at the end of regulation to give the Hoosiers a two-point lead before Jantel Lavender scored to tie the game. Plus, Roberson won the matchup of the conference’s top two steals leaders (Buckeye PG Shavelle Little entered as the top dog) by a count of 3-1.