No. 10 IU women top Purdue on Senior Day

Via Stefan Krajisnik of the Indianapolis Star

The story of No. 10 Indiana’s 74-59 win against Purdue to close out the regular season could be seen in Ali Patberg’s eyes.

They were teary at first, as the team honored her and Keyanna Warthen pregame as part of Senior Day.

But quickly they became focused on the task at hand — closing out the regular season on a nine-game winning streak and beating Purdue for the fifth consecutive time.

When tip-off came, Patberg’s eyes were looking up the court as she pushed the pace on the Hoosiers’ high-tempo offense.

Then her eyes were looking at the hoop while her hands were making a clean pass to a wide-open Mackenzie Holmes.

Then she was looking into the eyes of a Purdue guard as she allowed no space to drive and ultimately forced a shot-clock violation.

Patberg was all over the court in this win, finishing with eight points, five rebounds and three assists. And when she wasn’t leading in the game, she was the voice in the huddle to gather her team and lead them on — something she’s done from the moment she took over as point guard when Tyra Buss graduated.

The 2015 Indiana Miss Basketball, Patberg originally went to Notre Dame to continue her playing career.

Injuries set her back there, so she decided to transfer. That’s when the recruiting process came again and Teri Moren came calling.

Patberg knew Moren from her high school recruiting process when Moren was a coach at Indiana State, but this time Moren was trying to build a program at the state’s flagship school.

“When I was visiting and deciding where to go, I told her I just wanted to work really hard,” Patberg said earlier this week. “I wanted to get back to being the old player that I was before my injury. I just kept saying that I’m gonna work extremely hard and do whatever you ask me to do. They believed in me.”

And Patberg did just that.

Moren says that the new culture of the program started with Buss and Amanda Cahill, but with Patberg and Brenna Wise coming in, there was another new standard created.

Patberg and Wise had to sit out their first seasons at Indiana due to transfer rules, but their work to prepare for the next season continued.

“They were a great example of what hard work — putting in sweat equity, all that — looks like in terms of what they did and the types of players that they both have become,” Moren said on Friday. “Grace Berger has followed in those footsteps. Mackenzie Holmes has followed in those footsteps. Aleksa Gulbe has followed in those footsteps, and I suspect others have and will as we continue to build our program.”

Patberg immediately got emotional on Friday when asked about Saturday possibly being her final game at Assembly Hall. She hasn’t decided what next year will look like for her yet, but she’s trying to focus on the goals set for this season.

Regardless of what she decides, her legacy lives on at Indiana. She sat out as IU won the WNIT title in 2018 when the momentum of the program truly started to build, and now she’s helped take it to its first top-10 ranking and a school-record 16 Big Ten victories with her work on and off the court.

“You wish that you could have 15 Ali Patbergs,” Moren said. “It’s not gonna ever happen, but if you could have a team full of those, then you’re gonna not only have success but walking in every day is gonna be a complete joy because she’s the full package. She really is.”

The squad around Patberg is the best she’s had in her time at IU, and they showed up on Saturday.

Indiana’s bigs, Mackenzie Holmes and Aleksa Gulbe, showed how comfortable they are playing together after these past two years.

Gulbe scored 11 of her 14 points in the first half to get Indiana (18-4, 16-2 Big Ten) going before Holmes took over in the second half against the Boilermakers (7-15, 3-15). Holmes finished with 26 points — 22 of which came in the second half.

Nicole Cardano-Hillary continued her usual ways of being a pesky defender and forcing turnovers (she had three steals) while scoring 11 points.

The game ended with fellow senior guard Keyanna Warthen checking back in for one possession alongside Patberg, then the roommates checked out together and embraced their players and coaches on the sideline after turning what was still a two-point game after three quarters into another double-digit victory thanks to a 14-2 run over the first five minutes of the final period.

Now Indiana’s seniors can turn their eyes turn to postseason play.

10 comments

  1. Choosing to focus on something positive, three cheers for IU Women’s BB team. Another outstanding season. And let’s hope they keep it going for a few more weeks.

    BTW, Teri Moren deserves a huge raise!

  2. Fine IU Ladies basketball representation by Ali P. and Kart W. Congratulations.
    IU Ladies defensively unfocused for 3 quarters of game but came through in quarter 4.
    What kind of athletic director is Scott Dolson? T. Moren contract runs thru 2023. Well, it’s 2021. So 2023 is not in the to distant future.
    Refer to: December 18, 2019 IU blog report. Future Secure for Moren IU women basketball. I and other bloggers were discussing T. Moren contract including you, Podunker. And most were very dismissive of IU Ladies basketball and T. Moren contract. ONE OF THE VERY BEST THINGS GOING ON AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY…and think about what this woman and staff have accomplished along with THE IU LADIES STUDENT ATHLETES.

  3. I’d hate to think that the cost of buying out AM’s contract would prevent SD from giving TM a raise with a three-year contract extension. She should be secured for the next five years, solidifying her ability to continue to recruit the best players.

  4. I agree and recruits really good gym rat type players who are really tuned into coaching and vice versa wanting to be challenged. Actually, T. Moren hasn’t been able to recruit the very best straight from high school but IU Ladies basketball players have become some of the best players and people.

  5. Sounds as if they already have Paige Bueckers penciled in as Freshman of the year and POTY. She may get it because of team she’s on and the talent around her, but I disagree , maybe for the big east. But many in the country may not have seen Kaitlyn Clark, 27.4 ppg- 6.0 reb- 6.8 ast. Teams in the big ten doing the best they can do to defend her and she still has something like 10 30 plus ppg. If Iowa is in the big dance then everyone will see what a true frosh phenom she is and how difficult she is to contain.

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