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Lack of toughness contributes to Indiana’s 75-69 loss vs. Northwestern

Brenna Wise drives to the basket Wednesday night against Northwestern. (Josh Eastern/HN)

Indiana came out sluggish against the Northwestern Wildcats Wednesday evening and never recovered, falling 75-69 for their second loss in their last three games.

The Hoosiers opened up the game missing their first 10 shots and falling behind 8-0. They didn’t hit their first field goal until the 3:04 mark of the first quarter.

Northwestern led by as many as 18 at one point in the fourth quarter before Indiana rallied off nine straight to come within nine. There was a point in the fourth where Northwestern didn’t score for almost five minutes. However, the hole was too deep to climb out of for the Hoosiers and their comeback fell short.

The loss wasn’t a result of poor shot selection, a multitude of turnovers or from Northwestern shooting the lights out. The main issue for the Hoosiers was toughness, especially on the glass. Indiana was outrebounded 42-29, including 15-10 on the offensive glass.

“Offensive rebounds, rebounds in general, is all about toughness and grit and I think we didn’t exceed their toughness and their grit in those moments,” IU forward Brenna Wise said.

The Wildcats turned the ball over nine times in the fourth quarter and shot four-of-12 from the field. However, their ability to get offensive rebounds and get to the free throw line was the difference.

“They were much better than we were on the boards, outrebounding us 42-29. That’s a toughness, that’s a grittiness category and that was very frustrating to watch,” IU coach Teri Moren said. “Tonight, Northwestern came in and they were the tougher team, and that’s disappointing.”

Indiana had plenty of open looks, but shots were not falling for the Hoosiers at any point. As a team they finished 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from three. Ali Patberg went eight-of-20 and Jaelynn Penn shot just five-of-17. The two guards combined for five-of-16 from long range.

The Hoosiers have won several games this season without their best shooting nights. They’ve won plenty of games with grittiness and toughness, especially on the defensive end. That wasn’t the case tonight.

“Sometimes there’s been moments where that level of toughness I’m describing has won us games. It didn’t tonight,” Moren said. “I thought you could say we were a little bit feistier and grittier in the fourth, but that’s too late.”

Indiana got off to fast starts against Ohio State and Wisconsin, but struggled to finish strong, losing at Ohio State and surviving a big run from the Badgers. Wednesday was much different, with the Hoosiers trailing by as many as 11 in the first quarter.

Inconsistency has plagued the Hoosiers recently, but they’ve been solid in games following losses. Indiana now faces a tough challenge on the road against Purdue on Sunday. A big game against an arch-rival could be a motivator for the Hoosiers, but they believe every game is motivating in the Big Ten.

“Certainly, this loss will be motivating, as it should be,” Wise said. “But every game is motivating, you have to be ready every game.”

Indiana is now 15-3 and 4-2 in the Big Ten heading into the showdown in West Lafayette. The Hoosiers are in the midst of an up-and-down part of their season, but they are currently 2-0 in games following a loss.

With 12 games remaining, the coaching staff is aware there is plenty more basketball to be played, and it’s important to keep the team in the right mindset, especially after a difficult loss.

“One of the things that this group has continued to show is they’ve been resilient, they’ve been usually pretty ticked off,” Moren said. “But we have to understand that with every season comes peaks and valleys. As we always caution our kids, you can never get too high, you can never get too low.”

Austin Render

I am a sophomore from Fort Wayne, Indiana majoring in Sports Media. Last year I worked with IUSTV Sports doing recap and feature packages for IU field hockey, women's basketball and baseball. I am one of the current WIUX Co-Sports Directors. I am a student broadcaster for WIUX as well as Big Ten Network Student U. You can reach me at austinrender99@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter @austinrender.

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