No. 16 IU women dominate record-setting opener

Ali Patberg let the 3-pointer fly and held the follow through as the ball splashed through the net for the first points of the 2020-21 season on Wednesday afternoon.

But instead of the usual roar cascading through Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, it was scattered screams of delight that echoed through the cavernous, mostly empty building with only immediate family, a handful of media and a bleacher section of cardboard cutouts in attendance to witness what would become No. 16 Indiana’s 100-51 victory over Eastern Kentucky in the opener for both teams.

“It was weird,” IU coach Teri Moren said. “I overheard Grace (Berger) say it wasn’t as weird she thought it would be, but nonetheless it was weird. We feed off the fans in the building but then we settled in and you forget about the noise and spectators because we’re focused on the game plan and what we have to do to be successful.”

The Hoosiers (1-0) were plenty successful in what turned into a record-setting day.

Berger recorded the first triple-double in school history with 17 points, 10 rebound and 10 assists, while Mackenzie Holmes set an IU field-goal percentage record by going 13-of-13 from the field in route to 26 points. And Patberg, who finished with 18 points, went over 1,000 points in her Indiana career.

“Grace Berger was terrific with the triple double, Mack was perfect from the field, which I didn’t realize was record,” Moren said. “That’s really cool for Mack just because it is so well-deserved in the way she’s gotten her body right to come in as a sophomore and talking about her conditioning and how important it was to stay on the floor longer.”

Patberg and Berger sandwiched 3s around a Holmes putback in an 8-0 start, but it was once Holmes got going inside, both offensively and defensively, that the Hoosiers took off.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore was just shy of her own double-double with eight rebounds and seven blocks, the latter tied for second-most in program history with Amanda Cahill, Sarah McKay and Quacy Barnes. Barnes also holds the record with 10 blocks.

“You’re seeing Mackenzie 20-plus pounds lighter than a year ago, more agile, more versatile and her mobility is better,” Moren said. “Mack is giving us another defender when we’re hedging ball screens, switching ballscreens, just putting herself in a position physically where she can do things at a higher level than a year ago.”

With Eastern Kentucky’s zone baiting Indiana into attempting 3-pointers, Holmes found space inside and went to work with 14 points in the opening quarter of her third career start.

After a preseason of discussion about how Holmes had expanded her game out to the 3-point line, it was a familiar variety of post moves that that formed the foundation in the opener.

“She’s uncanny good with her back to the basket,” Moren said. “I watched her score through traffic, in traffic with two people in close proximity, still split two defenders, use both hands. She’s really good around the low block, and I would imagine that inside, although she wouldn’t admit this, she was probably a little disappointed she couldn’t stretch out today and at least attempt a 3.”

That will have to wait, but the Hoosiers weren’t waiting as a 24-3 run over the final 6:40 of the first quarter stretched the lead to 34-8 with Jaelynn Penn racking up all six of her assists in the opening 10 minutes.

Holmes and the IU offense was a little quieter in the second quarter, going just 1-of-6 from 3.

“I was a little frustrated in the second quarter that we were settling for shots beyond the arc,” Moren said. “Our advantage was on the inside.

“… I wanted to get a lot of post touches, just an improvement from our intersquad game, when we were not getting the ball inside the way we need to.”

Holmes scored the first basket of the third quarter off an assist from Berger as both made their record-setting runs early in the second half.

“I didn’t know (about the triple-double) until I came off,” Berger said. “Like I told Mack, when she’s making shots like that, it’s not too hard to get 10 assists.”

Maybe, but Berger worked plenty hard to get the 10 rebounds as the undersized Colonels (0-1) consistently crashed the backboards, collecting 17 offensive rebounds of their own. And IU assistant coach Rhet Wierzba made sure Moren knew Berger was approaching the milestone after Patberg had come up just short in recent seasons.

“Grace is fantastic. I know she’s one of the best guards in the country, hands down, and I’d put her to the test against anybody,” Moren said. “Coach Rhet mentioned it, he was paying attention, and those are important moments that probably in the past with Ali maybe I had taken out to rest or keep her away from injury, but Grace accomplished that pretty early. There’s just a lot to Grace Berger’s game — she can shoot it, handle it, distribute it. I’m really happy for her.”

Holmes was equally oblivious to her feat.

“I’m not focused on it in the course of a game,” she said. “I know if I do what I do, I have the opportunity to be successful. After I came out of the game, on the bench people were telling me, but during the game I was more focused on hitting shots because the guards were looking for me.”

It was a game for looking at everyone available on the Hoosier roster, as freshman Kiandra Browne (hip) was the only eligible player not to see the floor.

Notre Dame transfer Danielle Patterson had 14 points in her Indiana debut, while freshman Chloe Moore-McNeil and redshirt freshman Arielle Wisne both scored their first career points.

Indiana will take the floor again on Dec. 3 against Samford.

20 comments

  1. The thing that really stood out to me was Patterson getting 14 points off the bench. I made the statement a couple of weeks ago about how much better we would be this year with Patterson playing. She is a proven veteran who played key minutes for Notre Dame when she was there. Her ability to score and rebound inside will just make us a better team! She is a strong presence inside and gives us great size off the bench. Few teams have a player of her ability coming off the bench. Go Hoosiers!!

  2. I think T. Moren thinks she has one of the best guards in the country in Grace Berger. This team has 8 legitimate starters. As a starter I include Patterson. Plus if Hillary and Wagoner are included = 8.
    T. Moren loves Wagoner; academic student, and in this game at one point had 9, rebounds, 2 assists, 0 points and took a charge in 11minutes.
    Looking at top 25 list of college women basketball players Ali Patberg checks in at 25. IU may have 3 players that could check in on the top 25 list in Patberg, Berger, and Holmes. Patterson may be right there as well.

  3. Kentucky women basketball dealing with coaching change, 2 players short 2 and 3 game suspensions. Still rolled today.

  4. Not sure we learned much beyond the fact that Patterson sure got comfortable the second half. I’m with MikeC. She appears to be the real deal.
    I thought Penn seemed more comfortable after surgery on her feet? Might be wishful thinking on my part.

  5. This team appears to have great balance all around, but Holmes will be hard to deal with plus as Moren said she can step out and hit the 3. Only thing is they really need what Mack can do on the inside , Gulbe may be able to do some of that but not like Mack. One thing Gulbe can do well is defend on the inside proved that last year, but she still is shaky from the outside. If Price can play after the first of the year we will have a lot more depth and play making ability.

  6. Waggoner scored a TON of points in high school, and it seems to me her basketball IQ is off the charts. The sky is the limit for this team.

  7. Nat, I love Waggoner’s game, thought she was shorted in minutes played last year. She works hard, plays hard and adds much to the team. She is not a great athlete but, always seems to be in the right place at the right time. I would like to see her be more aggressive offensively. Her size is a plus in her play. Every team needs a player like her in their rotation. Go Hoosiers!!

  8. I think that Waggoner is a good sturdy athlete. For her it would be great for her if she could hit a couple baskets. Whether inside or outside or combo of both. I think the reason she is not making a couple baskets is all in her head in that she knows she is not going to take hardly any shots. So she feels pressure to make shot when she does try to score. I think it’s a question of confidence. Once she overcomes this she will make a couple baskets or one here and there. She is just at beginning of sophomore year playing for a top 20 team. Waggoner will play because you can tell that T. Moren likes her game and her as a student athlete.

  9. Yes a couple players suspended for Ky , but Howard only 2 games will be available for IU. I watched some of the highlights of her on you tube and she likes to play more outside than inside is a great shooter had a couple big games 37 against tenn. and 43 against Bama. She also had games where she was cold shooting. Avg. 23 for the season , looks like one on one she will unload on you , S. Carolina doubled on her no matter where she was on the floor. A huge test for sure for IU. Coaching staff will have us as ready as we can be.

  10. It’s best that Howard is back and Ky is at full strength when playing IU so game means more. I expect IU to win this game at KY.
    Who draws assignment on Howard outside? Foul trouble? Plus KY has a lot more than just Howard. Foul trouble or staying out of foul trouble will be key?

  11. Ohio had a good Black Friday. The Ladies beat Notre Dame and the guys sooo close to winning Illinois – but not to be.

    Is there a KenPom type site for the women’s game.?

  12. t- my thoughts are the same about Moore-McNeil , she’s a little shaky now but in time she will get it rolling. Right now Im questioning Morens comments on Gulbe, has said more than once how tremendous she looks, didnt appear that way against a smaller team EKY. She struggled making a simple 2′ shot and not even close on 3’s. but did reb well.

  13. I project Patterson playing time to increase quite a bit to very much as season continues. I expect Gulbe to continue at last year’s level of play when she is playing in the game. I doubt if three ball is needed much from Gulbe because IU Ladies have other alternatives. Not sure if Patterson is a 3 ball threat or not?

  14. Moren is still in question on Patterson on the defensive side, as she is not yet as mobile as she will need to be against big ten competition.

  15. That definitely will limit her minutes. However, sure is nice to have a higher level player for depth and foul trouble. High level NY recruit in H.S. IU Ladies have many high level players that offer something to a bunch the team.

  16. Must have been an interesting game at S. Carolina as they only beat S. Dakota by 10. That game was tied at halftime. Dakota is just outside of the top 25.

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