No. 15 IU women settle for ugly win at Illinois

“Well, that was ugly.”

There was no sugarcoating Sunday’s game for Indiana women’s basketball coach Teri Moren.

The saving grace for the No. 15 Hoosiers was that they still pulled it a 58-50 win at Illinois after watching a 17-point, second-half lead dwindle to just one with 2:39 to play.

“As I said to our group, they’re not always pretty,” Moren said. “Sometimes you just have to find ways (to win) and grind it out.”

That was exactly what IU had to do on an afternoon when the basket looked the size of a donut hole for both teams, which combined to shoot less than 31% from the field while playing through 41 fouls and 31 turnovers.

“Defensively, we always come in prepared. Our coaches have us ready and prepared for their plays and their personnel,” IU senior guard Ali Patberg said. “We were where we were supposed to be. Coach Box always says if you’re in the right spots, the ball will find you.”

Any kind of rhythm or flow was hard to come by, although the closest either side came was when Indiana put together a 21-5 second-quarter run built on forcing turnovers and making free throws to go up 20. The Hoosiers (13-4, 11-2 Big Ten) scored 20 points off 16 turnovers in the first half and went 16-of-20 at the line as seven Illini players had two or more fouls.

“Anytime you have the number of fouls that were called in the first half, and those went in our favor, so I don’t wanna complain about being at the free-throw line,” Moren said. “As a matter of fact, that’s probably what got us our lead, but any time there’s disruption at the rate that it seemed like the game was being called for fouls, it’s really hard to have any kind of a floor pace to the game, so I would say that I would chalk it up to that.”

Indiana had lesser foul trouble as Aleksa Gulbe had three fouls in eight minutes during the first half, then picked up her fourth just two minutes into the third quarter. In spite of that, the Hoosiers used an 8-2 run to go up 42-25 early in the frame.

And then the bottom fell out offensively.

Illinois (3-13, 1-12) went on a 12-2 run of its own to pull within 44-37 heading to the fourth quarter, as Indiana went scoreless for the final 4:29 of the third.

Things didn’t get a whole lot better in the fourth quarter. Gulbe did return and hit back-to-back baskets for a 51-42 lead with under six minutes to go, but the Illini rattled off an 8-0 run to pull within 51-50 with 2:39 remaining.

Patberg, who had a game-high 16 points, hit a jumper off a Gulbe offensive rebound to stem the tide before Nicole Cardano-Hillary delivered what might’ve been the biggest basket of the game with 57 seconds left on a driving layup off the right wing.

“One of the other players fell on the ground and kind of left the floor wide open,” said Cardano-Hillary, who had 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. “My shot hadn’t been falling, so I figured this would be a good time to attack and I finished it. I felt like that was a good push for the team.”

Patberg added three free throws to close things out, as Indiana survived 9-of-33 shooting in the second half and an off-day from leading scorer Mackenzie Holmes, who went 1-of-16 from the field for seven points and 10 rebounds. Holmes also had three blocks to move into 10th on Indiana’s all-time blocks list. Berger added 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

“Obviously, the fourth quarter was horrific for us in terms of being able to score the ball, just went on a drought there,” Moren said. “We were getting good shots, good looks, layups just wouldn’t go down.”

But in the end, IU heads into a showdown with No. 12 Michigan on a four-game winning streak.

“It definitely wasn’t our night in all areas, but as coach says, it’s not going to be pretty all the time,” Patberg said. “We found a way to win, to get enough stops to come out with a win.”

Patterson opts out

A total of 11 Hoosiers saw the floor Sunday in Champaign, Ill., but one of those who didn’t was Notre Dame transfer Danielle Patterson.

Patterson has joined teammate Jaelynn Penn in opting out of the rest of this season, according to Moren.

“She and her family have decided it’s best for her to step back, and so she’s opted out,” Moren said postgame.

Patterson averaged 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in 15 appearances for IU this season.

18 comments

  1. UGLY ,,, that is how you can label this game. Because so much of IU ‘s offense goes thru Mack , she was rattled by the bigger Ruben, at one point blocking 3 trys in a row and after that there just seemed to be a lid on the basket for her and many others. Forget it and prepare for Mich.

  2. For a minute, I thought I was watching the men playing Northwestern again.
    Wow, what a horrible offensive performance.
    Hopefully got it out of our system before we play Michigan.
    Northwestern – OSU didn’t go because of Covid, and I’ll almost be surprised if we play Michigan.
    Best strategy to stay ranked is to just not play it seems.
    GO IU!

  3. Win is a win. Holmes should have been able to score on Illinois center. Just off day. Looks like IU Ladies are going with the girls who want to and good enough to play.

    1. Women’s ugly win = “win is a win”
      Men’s ugly win = “mediocrity”

      Banner discrimination? This is like my wife hanging a picture of George Clooney in every room of the house. No pressure on her.

  4. Damn near forgot Patterson was on the team hopefully all is well with her but i will say the poor shooting with be an issue against the better teams they could be a sweet 16 but the lack of 3 point shooting also will be their undoing

  5. I guess that answers my question about whether danielle was having fun! Jae wasn’t having much fun either. Wouldn’t be surprised to see both maybe hit the portal. Penn may “medically retire” who knows. Didnt get to watch the game today because i only have the lowly BTN, sounds like i didn’t miss much. “Opt out”

    1. Penn should have been having fun as far as playing time. She was starting and playing as much as her body would allow. So lack of playing time would be no reason for her to transfer.

  6. Must admit the opting out seems very odd, but I do think the women are doing better than holding serve.
    They’re in third place (@11-2) “behind” second place Michigan at (@6-1) who hasn’t played Maryland.
    I think that’s pretty good! 🙂
    GO IU!
    ps. you didn’t miss much today!

  7. Now with teams still ppd because of covid will special rules need to be added for the tourney , if a team cant play because of covid should they forfeit, seems the tourney has to continue on with or without a team.

  8. Doing better than holding serve…finish higher in big ten regular season, not getting beat in semi final in big ten tournament, and being a sweet 16 team in March Madness tournament….and that would only be a little better than holding serve.

  9. If Mich. can stay covid free they will find out this week if they are deserving of 2nd place. They have Mich. St. on tues, IU on thurs. Ohio State on sunday.

  10. I see they now IU’s game against Mich. on BTN,, wouldnt have been surprised if it had been on espn2.

  11. What exactly does opt out mean? Is it new this year — had heard it in relation to COVID, but nothing else. Have JP and DP quit, for sure never to return? JP’s physical issues have been a problem in her development, and DP was not coming on very fast, so the impact on the team (depth aside) likely limited to missing JP hot shooting streaks (which have been critical in some games). More concerned if there is an internal problem. Any ideas?

  12. At least IU made the NCAA TOP 16 REVEAL from last night . Maryland and Indiana the only big ten teams to make it. If you remember the previous reveal when Creme had IU in the ncaa did not have them in the top 16. This can change depending on how teams finish their remaining games.

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