No. 17 IU women nab 1st win at Iowa since 1994

Via Stefan Krajisnik of the Indianapolis Star

Megan Gustafson’s jersey hangs in the rafters of Carver-Hawkeye Arena after she had one of the most dominant collegiate basketball careers in recent history.

Inside the arena on Sunday was a player in Mackenzie Holmes who models her game after Gustafson and is flattered when she even hears the comparison of their playing style, which has happened a couple of times now during an Indiana television broadcast.

“Any time I get a compliment like that, it means a lot to me and it fuels my fire to keep working hard,” Holmes said.

While Holmes has a ways to go to reach the accolades of a player like Gustafson, her performance on Sunday in Indiana’s 85-72 win at Iowa was one worth all of the praise — the first win for the Hoosiers (11-4, 9-2 Big Ten) at Iowa since 1994.

Holmes led the way for Indiana with 25 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks — scoring 16 of those points in a dominant second half.

Moren admitted at times when her team has struggled, they begin to lean too much on the outside shot and don’t go to Holmes as much. The eight makes on nine field-goal attempts in the second half show Indiana did not shy away from getting her the ball.

IU struggled at the start of the second quarter, allowing Iowa to build an eight-point lead before the Hoosiers made a run of their own to take a lead into halftime. When it appeared Indiana might pull away in the third quarter, Iowa returned the favor of a late-quarter run to make it a two-point game going into the final frame.

That’s where Indiana found its transition game again and started to rely on the combination of Holmes and senior guard Ali Patberg.

The Hoosiers won the points off turnovers category, 16-9, as well as outscoring Iowa 10-3 in fastbreak points. Even as the Hawkeyes (10-6, 6-6) chipped their way back into the game, Moren continued to stress her mantra of up-tempo offense. As the game went on, she could see the results.

“We thought our best offense today was gonna be running and getting downhill,” Moren said. “And I thought Iowa, quite frankly, got a little bit tired and fatigued.”

Leading that transition offense was Patberg, who pitched in 23 points. It was just the third time this season she’s had more than 20 in a game and comes on the heels of the sixth-year senior having to answer questions regarding a recent stretch that included three straight games where she failed to score in double figures.

But what Moren wants her offense to be, particularly against a team like Iowa, is what Patberg does best.

“I don’t ever really feel the pressure,” Patberg said postgame. “Coach Moren, she believes in me more than anyone. She coaches me hard — she coaches all of us hard — because she loves us so much and wants us to do well.”

About an hour before tipoff, Indiana sent out a release announcing that senior guard Jaelynn Penn had decided to opt out of the remainder of the season. Moren did not provide many details of why Penn made that decision.

“We want Jaelynn to take care of Jaelynn right now,” Moren said.

Stepping in for Penn in the starting lineup was transfer Nicole Cardano-Hillary, who also started three games in January while Penn dealt with an ankle injury.

Moren said it was helpful to have had a small stint to use as a foundation for Cardano-Hillary being put into the starting rotation, and with that IU got her best performance of the season.

Cardano-Hillary pitched in a season-high 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-6 from deep.

“It took all of us today,” Moren said. “That’s what we wanted our response to be. I don’t know that it fell on just one person, just because (Cardano-Hillary) was in the lineup.”

The win for IU comes after another week that included game cancellations due to the opposing team’s COVID-19 issues. Indiana was in practice last week when it was decided that Thursday’s game with Rutgers was going to be postponed.

Moren talked postgame about the mental struggles of the start-and-stop that this season brings and how taxing that can be on teams without strong veteran leadership.

For Moren, that’s not an issue as she said her team was quick to turn its attention to the matchup with Iowa and delve into the scouting report.

“They are always chomping at the bit to get on the floor and compete,” Moren said.

The Hoosiers’ upcoming week includes a home game Wednesday against a Penn State team it beat 85-64 last month before traveling to play Illinois next Sunday.


  1. Great game today against a team we normally have trouble with at their place! Holmes was fabulous on the road looking more and more like Guftafson at her place. I’ve said it before this year and I will say it again, Holmes is almost a clone of the Iowa great. We really played well on a court where we have struggled many times in the past. Mackenzie had a tremendous all around game scoring and rebounding inside. One of the things that she has not been credited with this year is her defense, she was great today in that respect! Cardano-Hillary was terrific starting again. She has proven to be a God-send this year. How fortunate we are that she chose IU to play her last year of college basketball although the NCAA is going to let all of this year’s seniors play another year if they so chose! I really think Hillary can be a double figure scorer for us the rest of the year. Really wondering what the deal is with Penn? Sure didn’t see that coming? I have read where she will return next year to play another year after deciding to not play the rest of this year, really strange unless it is a medical issue?? Who knows?? Probably for the best, she hasn’t been very good the last couple of years? I know, somebody jump on me about saying something negative about one of our players? Sorry, I just call them like I see them. All in all, a nice win on the road against a good team. Go Hoosiers!!

  2. That was indeed an impressive win.
    1994 was a long time ago!
    And, the Jaelynn Penn situation had to weigh on everybody’s mind.
    Very well done ladies!

    1. Mike C.
      Agree that Holmes plays a LOT like Guftafson. Love that old school post style. Slippery as soap.
      GO IU!

  3. One that seems to be having a tough few games is Aleksa ? Seems it has been difficult to get her involved in the sets. She’s not doing anything wrong just seems unable toget going.

    Candano-Hillary, easy to see she is 5’6 when in the team huddle. She has ‘game’.

  4. Jaelynn was a lock-down defender, but apparently Cardano-Hilary did a good job defensively today according to Coach Wierzba. And, she has certainly gotten a little better every game. Her plus/minus has been good lately, so she may have the ability to help a team in ways that don’t show up in the usual stats.

  5. I have been high on the Holmes bandwagon since before she got to IU as many of the regulars on here know and she hasnt disappointed. She has made quite the difference on the inside for IU , what would we be without her. Have to admit the Penn thing is a shocker and hopefully she can get any issues resolved. What a great win this turned out to be , havent won at Iowa in nearly 30 yrs, nice to see Ali have a good game offensively, much needed. Nikki seemed to be a much better defender on Clark in the second half , Holmes was able to cause Czidano a lot of trouble. I too wonder about Lex, she is really struggling of late , started out hot early in the year maybe she can get that back to help the team very soon.

  6. “One more thing,” as Steve Jobs would say, as Nikki and Ali took it upon themselves to fill the void today, the two of them could be seen talking-supporting-cooperating verbally, visibly, often today. Yea team!

    1. This team seems to have great chemistry and has had it for a long time.
      Which is why Penn doing whatever she is doing is such a mystery.
      Perhaps Teri will talk more about it tonight at 6:30pm on FM WHCC 105.1.
      Won’t get in trouble for advertising will I ? 🙂

    2. Excellent point. N.C-H. as a veteran player herself seems to have confidence to help IU Ladies play down hill and she made shots and teammates made shots as team played with confidence.

  7. Nice win at Iowa. Don’t know what Aleksa Gulbe you all are talking about struggling. She put up 14 points last game vs Michigan State. Over the last 5 games she has shot 14 – 26 (.539) and grabbed close to 7 rebounds per game. She leads the team in steals. In B1G play she is converting at a .381 clip from beyond the arc (best on the team 20+ attempts) and .793 from the free throw line. She has been more than solid on the defensive end ,sets great screens and does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score. I’ll take a team full of “struggling” players like her.

  8. Scwartzie, I agree with everything you said about Lexi, she is fine. This team is playing really well right now! Her rebounding and defense are carrying her. She does all of the dirty things. Every successful team has to have a player with her ability! This team just continues to play one game at a time and take care of business. Take care of business and let the chips fall where they may. This team has very, very good talent that plays together the way the game was meant to be played. Losing Penn, no big deal, just plug in another piece and play the game. This is what really good teams do! No individual stars, just a team that plays together. Go Hoosiers!!

  9. You could tell by listening to Moren post game she was more than happy with her team’s effort today. They were very scared what Clark might do , she went off in the first half , then put Nikki on her second half and it slowed Clark. Nikki’s experience is and will be so valuable to her team. Now that Penn is out she knows it will be her doing what she can do to help this team. I agree Lex does all the dirty stuff because she can but will be needed to help this team offensively,[2 pts] it was remarked more than once by the commentators mainly because of the absence of Penn. Thank goodness Ali had the game she had. I still would like to see more of key plays good defense and can run the floor , all she does is come in and hit a 3 when IU is struggling. She has done that a couple time of recent with very little time on the floor.

  10. Today’s updated NET rankings have IU at the 9 spot, Maryland is at 7.
    I find it interesting that DePaul is ranked 20th in the AP poll but sit at 53 in the NET rankings. They have losses of 41 points, 33 points and 23 points. The Massey ratings show their defense rated 280th in the country. Makes me think the human polls just may be biased lol.

  11. Key is the veteran player as well and seems to have a really good attitude during her time at IU. And Hillary may be a solid difference maker…making others around her better including herself for the rest of this season in her new found permanent role. Seems like IU Ladies had a good flow to their game. Hillary is the type of player that may make the most this situation. Has the IU Ladies put the pieces together?

  12. B.Y. having a pretty good year at Arizona though had an injury scare.
    Marchasee is having a comparable year at Kent State as she did at IU not playing a whole lot. (had a game of 10 points). Playing time has diminished. Probably, played more at IU than Kent State.

  13. Thanks t for the updates.
    Really liked both women, hope things work out better for Marchasee. She was tough, and I hated it when she left.

  14. Obviously the word was getting to the team get the ball inside. In one stretch with Chloe in the game looked like she and Mack were just playing pass back anf forth till Mack had the advantage inside , then the score. You see different polls and articles on the best post players and defenders and Mack is not mentioned but that time will come.

  15. Yes, Steve I remember Chloe and Mac passing back and forth until Mac established position. Was it 2 or 3 times in that sequence? To me that is a big compliment to Chloe that she is listening to coaching and poised to work game plan.

  16. Also dont know if this bothered anyone else but in watching the game and listening to Pam Ward constantly calling holmes berger got on my nerves . Granted she is not actually there neither am I and the only thing both their numbers end with a 4 but come on she must have done that a half a doz times , maybe I expect too much from a vet like her,, com’on man.

  17. Got kind of funny after awhile. Not noticed much difference with the off-site coverage. Response to the action a little slow some times and a few WTH just happened trying to figure out why a foul called or why the officials are huddled. While I miss the crowd response, hearing the coaches yelling out and the bench involvement with encouragement is interesting.

  18. Nat, I like you was a huge Marchasee fan. Loved her hustle and toughness! I hated it when she left, although I really believe Moren shorted her in playing time! She only played her 3 or 4 minutes at a time as though acting like she had no confidence in her at all? Marchasee’s dad use to sit just to the left of me. I was really amazed her dad came to so many games since he is from Georgia. I went over to talk to him one day before the game started and asked him how difficult it was for him to come to so many games? He said when he came to games he would stay with Lindsey in her room. He said he has his own business so he could leave whenever he wanted to. He very rarely ever missed a game. How cool is that? Go Hoosiers!!

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