Cardano-Hillary, No. 11 IU women rally at Ohio State

Via Stefan Krajisnik of the Indianapolis Star

When Nicole Cardano-Hillary transferred to Indiana, these are the types of performances Teri Moren had in mind.

A former Atlantic-10 player of the year and the leading scorer in George Mason program history, Cardano-Hillary came to IU to provide another scoring guard off the bench.

But with Jaelynn Penn’s decision to opt-out, Cardano-Hillary now finds herself as a starter in her first season at Indiana.

In Saturday’s 87-75 win at No. 15 Ohio State, she proved she was up to the task.

Cardano-Hillary scored 16 points and shot 3-of-8 from deep, including a big 3 from the corner to jumpstart Indiana’s final push of momentum to close out the game.

It’s no surprise that she’s found her way in the scoring column, but the 5-foot-6-inch guard is providing much more. She added 11 rebounds and constantly caused issues for Ohio State’s guards — something that Moren praised following the team’s win at Wisconsin earlier this week.

In the first quarter, Cardano-Hillary met Ohio State’s Jacy Sheldon at midcourt and immediately attacked the ball. Sheldon fumbled with it but still recovered, but Cardano-Hillary’s pursuit wasn’t finished.

She chased down Sheldon again, got a piece of the ball and then dove to the floor to grab the steal. While still on the ground, Cardano-Hillary looked up and saw Grace Waggoner open, making a pass that had Indiana scoring an easy layup on the other end.

“She’s having success, and because of it, our team is having success in the pressure she’s providing on the ball right now,” Moren said. “She’s just been so good at playing other team’s point guards and making them uncomfortable.”

The performance came on Cardano-Hillary’s 22nd birthday, and it’s one that her teammates and coaches knew would come once she settled and got more comfortable in her new role at a new school.

“(Cardano-Hillary) plays really hard,” senior guard Ali Patberg said. “She’s super competitive… That just shows you her heart, her toughness and her will to win.”

IU (15-4, 14-2) was the better team for much of the first half thanks in large part to its defensive effort. Indiana held Ohio State to just 12 points in the first quarter, but OSU found ways to stay in it.

Just before halftime, the Buckeyes hit a 3 to cut the deficit to six. But an untimely turnover by IU in the final seconds gave Ohio State one last heave from half court which went in.

In a matter of seconds, Ohio State had made it a one-possession game going into the break and that momentum carried.

Indiana lacked momentum for much of the second half — including a four-minute scoring drought to end the third quarter. Ohio State had a lead as large as nine in the fourth, and with Indiana struggling to hit from outside, the OSU zone caused issues like it had in the first matchup between the two.

But instead of relying on hitting shots from outside, Indiana turned back to what it does best.

The Hoosiers focused on creating stops and allowing the transition offense to open up the scoring. When IU couldn’t push, it still found ways to get the ball inside to its bigs.

“I loved our composure,” Moren said. “We didn’t blink. We knew that the run was coming, and I’m just really proud of our entire group.”

Interior scoring allowed Indiana back into the game, and once the momentum and the score were back in Indiana’s favor, that’s when Cardano-Hillary hit the corner 3 to provide the final punch.

“Couldn’t have had a more timely 3 to give us a little bit more breathing room,” Moren said.

This was Indiana’s seventh consecutive win with the last loss being at home to Ohio State a month ago. The win also snapped a 15-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and marks the second road win against a ranked opponent this year.

Moren acknowledged the droughts Indiana has ended this season — including a road win at Iowa for the first time since 1994. The 14th conference win is tied for the second-most in program history behind the 15 of the 1983 Big Ten champions.

“You have to have a different mindset, different persona, different toughness when you go on the road,” Moren said. “That’s what our kids have continued to play with.”

Maryland, with one loss, continues to stay ahead of Indiana in the Big Ten race. IU’s final two games this season are at home against Iowa and Purdue, while Maryland has Northwestern and Penn State remaining.


  1. Did not like the 3rd Quarter but they did not give up, just tightened up the D. First win at OS since January 2010. Great play by all.

  2. Hilary was 3 for 8 on threes, while everybody else on IU’s team was 0 for 7.
    She was clutch, and it’s a VERY good thing she came to IU, all things considered.
    She just flat flies around and brings so much to the table.
    Hit a KEY three to get us back in the game, and it wasn’t an easy shot.
    What a HUGE victory. Haven’t beat OSU at their place for almost 20 years.
    Man, that was sweet. Loved the 36 point fourth quarter!

  3. Beat OSU at their place in 2003.
    Beat them here in 2010, and that’s the last time we’ve beaten them anywhere.
    Until today! 🙂

  4. Hillary is very good way beyond my expectations. T. Moren loves this kind of player. Hillary doesn’t get to emotional, plays hard, is good and stays
    focused. She gives her team confidence and security and is a floor leader by her performance. She keeps team glued together and is mature. She makes pretty good both offensive and defensive decisions and energizes the whole team.
    Free throws were pretty good with a couple of costly lapses. Patberg gets fouled on a 3 ball. How does she miss 3 ft’s? Later she makes 2 in a row.
    Though post season ban OSU Ladies were missing Miller IU Ladies are without Penn, Patterson for year…and were missing K. Brown currently in games. Excellent win for IU Ladies. Passion and Tough.

  5. Not meaning to sound like Im saying anything against Penn, but her opting out has turned into a big advantage for IU and Hillary. Hillary is doing one hell of a job for IU, dont think anyone could have second guessed how good she would be. But 11 reb, 3 3ptrs, and 2 steals all huge in this game to help pull out the win and Happy Birthday to you Nikki along with a win at Columbus first time since 2002 even though IU did win in 2010 at IU.

  6. Absolutely terrific win in a tough place to play! This was the kind of game I expect IU to play on the road. WE are a veteran team with big time experience. Five players in double figures, not bad! Cardano-Hillary has turned out to be a Godsend to the Hoosiers! Without her we wouldn’t be where we are now! She is super competitive defensively and can hit the open shot. She is coach Moren’s type of player, hard nosed defensively and capable of scoring when needed. Road wins are like gold, hard to come by and very precious . We just keep playing one game at a time and taking care of business! Go Hoosiers!!

  7. Agree, Mike C. and Steve W.
    IU Ladies are a different team with Hillary.
    She could have not made a better decision coming to play for T. Moren….a match made in (on the basketball floor). I also think Hillary adds a little bit of calmness to Patberg. IU Ladies guards move, cut and handle the ball much better. Actually, making 5 difference makers on team anytime in game.

  8. Folks, this is one of the 8 best teams in the country. Cardano-Hillary has been a huge difference maker as Patberg can concentrate on what she does best. Please show me a team outside of UConn that makes more big defensive plays than the Hoosiers. My only concern is that they peak too early but I see a legit Elite 8 team with this group.

  9. I was sort of waiting for someone to make bold prediction “uncle buddy”,, maybe. I was sort of waiting on swartzie to make a prediction.

  10. Gulbe was huge for IU in that 4th quarter. 2 blocks, 2 crucial offensive rebounds and 6 points. BTW she played all 40 minutes and defended well the entire game.
    I have had the opportunity to watch a lot of women’s games this season and have seen all the top teams play and there are multiple teams (8) capable of winning the NCAA tournament. In my book Stanford is a slight favorite based on their body of work, team chemistry, coaching staff, and the challenging road schedule they endured. They will be a tough out. Maryland will also be a tough out and will defeat most teams ranked ahead of them in the human polls.

    Steve W. I stated at the start of the season that the Hoosiers had final 4 potential and I’ll stand by that. They will need to be a 3 seed or better in order to fulfill their potential. They should be 11th in the reveal later today. IU is still being pretty much ignored by the national media.
    There is still a lot of work to be done this season. Iowa will be ready to play and the Hoosiers will need to step up their defense to defeat the number 2 offense in the country.
    Let’s get ready to rumble!

  11. It was my thoughts also that IU would move up in the final reveal to gain a potential 3 seed. Iowa will be a load there is no doubt hopefully IU will be up to the task. Maryland is at NW today should be interesting.

  12. Gulbe seems to always be there and just steadily over her career improving her workmanship.
    Can someone explain technical foul on Ohio State guard??? I seen the play by missed what Ohio State guard said or did???

  13. I was at the Ohio State Ladies basketball game in 2020 at IU. IU seemed like they should have but forgot to win that game. This time IU Ladies and Hillary remembered to win game.

  14. IU WBB beat down the “can’t-beat-OSU” demon. At their house.
    It took guts and energy extraordinaire, which are so hard to self-generate on the road.
    Overcoming the momentum-killer bonehead play that gave OSU a second 3 pointer at end of half was special.
    Overcoming 0 of 3 free free throws on one trip in 2nd half was again special, among Alipat overcoming occasional foibles in midst of 101% ultra-effort. Outlasting OSU in their comforts of home was special; OSU faded-tired in the last 5 minutes, not us.
    Similar to the Iowa game, our girls, er, women, “wanted it more.”
    TEAM earned the win, but it doesn’t happen without the hell-on-wheels effort and tone established by Cordano-Hillary.
    Our running game reflected well-drilled, was well executed vs. quality competition. Our offensive motion and cutting stood out to me – like the perpetual motion of Steve Alford and co. at that end of floor.
    Lack of even average outside shooting/3’s remains our weakness, begs for opponents to zone us and collapse toward low post, daring us to settle for outside shots.
    Poole is another Owusu “power guard” in the making. Her technical was invisible-inaudible even on multi-replay.
    BTN tourney seeding of double-bye top 4 is carved-in among Mary, IU-Mich and Rutgers. If any game begs to be “made up” by Covid cancellers, a Mich and Rutgers game should be added.
    Add NW and IA to the top 4 and the B1G surely gets 6 teams into the NCAA; one or both of MSU & Nebraska might yet get in also.
    Mary has one-last tiny-remote chance to lose, this eve…
    playing AT NW.
    With #2 recruit, post player, Angel Reese back, expect Maryland to cruise into Final Four and, having seen UConn and South Carolina play… Mary has a great chance to win it all.
    This Mary team is built on just two returners, Owusu and MIller. We were favored to win B1G over Mary-NW-OSU only because voters had no clue of the quality and effect of Maryland’s transfers gained. OSU game establishes our transfer Nicole C-H as a major get.
    Bueckers of Uconn reminds me of the mental game magic in the clutch of Tiger Woods in his prime.

  15. Kind of surprising and disappointing that professional sports reporters consistently misspell Cardaño-Hillary’s name when she is now a key player on the team that they cover.

    Not that hard to get it right.

      1. Yes. In the Spanish language, the ñ is a different letter than the n and is pronounced differently. So, it’s a misspelling to not use the tilde.

        During one of the women’s team televised games, one of the announcers repeatedly pronounced Nicole’s name with an “n” sound. Probably from what was being read. It was like listening to someone talking at length about their vacation at the Grand Cannon, instead of the Grand Canyon.

        from a quick Google search…
        To type the small letter ñ, hold down the ALT key while pressing 0241 or 164 on your number pad.
        To type the capital letter Ñ, hold down the ALT key while pressing 0209 or 165.

  16. Hope it’s acceptable to elevate Nicole to NCH? or should it be NC-H? Anyway, I looked at the George Mason Women’s Basketball site last night. She sure rung some bells there. Her best game, point wise, was vs Penn State with 41 points. Her High School accomplishments were stellar. Question, at 5’6″ (or 5’7″) does anyone think she would have been recruited by IU or any BiG school out of High School ?

    She is a winner and IU lucked (?) into her. Is she eligible for the Covid extra year? That would be sweet.

    1. Ron,
      Yes, NCH is eligible for the extra year. She originally planned on having to sit out this year and play next year anyhow, so as of now I expect her to return.

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