Defense, Berger triple-double pace No. 15 IU women

At halftime on Wednesday afternoon, something needed to change.

For the Indiana women’s basketball team, there was no doubt what that something was — defense.

The No. 15 Hoosiers forced 11 turnovers in the third quarter, using a 12-0 run out of the locker room to take control en route to a 90-65 victory over visiting Penn State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“We pride ourselves on defense, so anytime someone is shooting over 50 percent from the field in half, we take that personally,” said IU junior guard Grace Berger, who personally did a little of everything in recording her third triple-double of the season — and second against Penn State — with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

The final piece of that puzzle was two assists in the final five minutes from Berger to Holmes, who knew the situation and was happy to cap off her own 25-point night.

“I was aware that she needed two more assists to get the triple-double,” Holmes said. “I wasn’t feeling pressure because I know Grace is confident in me and knows I can make those shots, so that took the pressure off that I knew she’d make a great pass for me to get the score.”

Indiana (12-4, 10-2 B1G) did the necessary work to put the game out of reach long before that.

Trailing 40-39 at halftime, the Hoosiers simply needed a mental reboot against the Nittany Lions, who came in on a four-game winning streak and carried that momentum through the opening 20 minutes, capped by Anna Camden’s basket for the lead with three seconds left.

“We just needed to be more interested defensively,” IU coach Teri Moren said. “It really became a pride thing for us at halftime taking with our guys and making sure we understood coming out in the second half and performing the way we did in the first half wasn’t going to be enough to win us the game. No doubt, we were a different team defensively in the second half.”

Not that Indiana players necessarily needed to be told.

“We have some time to talk as a team before coaches come in and that was something we talked about, we have to be better defensively,” Holmes said. “Coaches come in and solidify that for us and tell us details we have to get better on, but after a bad half like that, we already know coming into halftime wheat we need to work on.”

Penn State (8-8, 5-7) turned it over on four of their first six possessions after halftime, and the Hoosiers took full advantage with a spurt that included 3s by Nicole Cardano-Hillary and Aleksa Gulbe after IU went just 2-of-8 behind the arc in the first half.

Gulbe was one of four Hoosiers in double figures with 15 points, joining Berger, Holmes and Ali Patberg, who had 16 points and eight rebounds as the defense fueled the offense.

“Defensively, when we can get stops, we can get rebounds, we can get runouts,” Moren said. “It’s not rocket science for any basketball coach in America. That’s just how it works.”

The lead was never less than eight after that, and the steady bludgeoning of the third quarter gave way to Penn State practically waving the white flag in the fourth, as Indiana attacked the glass with impunity, outrebounding the Lions 12-1 through the first five minutes.

“I’d like to tell you it was some special adjustments we were making, but we needed them to adjust their minds and their focus and their heart and their determination and their grit, all that needed to change,” Moren said. “… It was more (a matter of) challenging them to step up in a big way, and I’m really happy and proud of the way they responded.”

Berger, who earlier Wednesday was added to the midseason list for the Wade Trophy, given to the national player of the year, started the final quarter needing just one rebound but four assists for a triple-double.

An assist to Holmes started the final period, followed quickly by a defensive rebound and then it just became a matter of time until the Louisville, Ky., native added to her historic season by tying Iowa’s Sam Logic for most triple-doubles by a Big Ten player in a single season and the second-most career triple-doubles in a Big Ten career.

“(It’s easy) when you have really good teammates who can make shots or someone like Mackenzie who you lob it up to them and they use footwork to make shots and get assists,” Berger said. “Assists are probably the hardest part of a triple-double.”

13 comments

  1. IU Ladies lolly gagged up and down the floor with Penn State Ladies first half. However, IU Ladies scored 90…around 50or 51 second half as Penn State tired. IU Ladies held Penn State to 65…Penn State scored around 25 second half. Triple double for G.B. and Mac assisted in that by making shots.

  2. As Moren said the team must have thought the game started at 4 instead of 3. The defense was not up to snuff in the first half and Im sure that point was stressed to the team at half. 51 pts in the second half has to be one of their highest scoring halves this season. Great to see 4 players in double figures and Gulbe being one of those. Also impressive to see Berger get that 3rd triple double in large part to credit Mack. It was also nice to see Paige Price finally get on the court for the first time in that last minute or so. Neither announcer mentioned it maybe because they were wrapped up in Berger trying to get the triple . Great win for the hoosiers,,, Go IU!

  3. Great game for the ladies.
    Interesting stats:
    Gulbe +/- of 35, not sure I’ve ever seen that big a number. Good for her!
    Warthen 2 for 2 on 3s. Rest of team 4 for 13.
    Patterson and Warthan 11 minutes each. Really happy these two along with Hilary stepped up with Penn and Brown unavailable. Good thing this team has so much depth!
    I selfishly wish Noveroske would get more minutes.

  4. (Gulbe+/-35)? don’t no what you are referring to?
    Did Norv. have an injury problem earlier?
    Expected more out of Patterson this season.
    Key is likable to me because though playing time has been limited during her career she has stuck with it and keeps her head straight to be productive when she does play. Really can’t remember anything negative about her. Must be enjoying herself and getting a college education in the process.

    1. I’m pretty sure that “Gulbe +/- of 35” means that IU outscored Penn State by 35 when Gulbe was in the game.

  5. Ive been saying it for a while now about Key and its good to see more minutes for her as IU needs what she can give.

    Current NET. rankings Maryland 7th IU 8th, Mich. 12 th Ohio St. 16th.

  6. Noverosky did have an injury early and wore a boot for a while.
    But I think (hope?) she is fine now, and I was surprised when Wisne was first sub center to leave the bench. Hopefully Hannah gets more playing time soon.
    And I agree that Key has a GREAT attitude.
    In my mind, this team is full of players with great attitudes.
    Not sure we’re really 8th without Penn and with an injured Browne, but I ain’t complainin’.

  7. Greg Murry said she was unavailable yesterday.
    Hip maybe?
    Agree with you Steve, she does foul some!

    1. Yes, Browne was out due to the hip injury she’s been battling. Coach Moren said postgame that she had a shot in the hip on Monday and hoped to be ready to go at Illinois on Sunday.

  8. There is talk out there that maybe conf. tourneys might not played to give certain teams time to make up games that had to be ppd. Selection monday not that far away March 15th. NCAA starts march 21.

  9. If things run according to plan against the Ilinois should get to see everyone on the court including Price who got on the court for 1 min last game , maybe we can get a better look at the Aussie.

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