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New Ways To Win: Inside Indiana women’s basketball’s 69-65 NCAA Tournament win over Texas

Bendu Yeaney drives to the basket during Indiana’s Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal against Iowa at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Kurt Spitler/HN).

Teri Moren and her group arrived in Oregon Tuesday night happy, but nowhere near satisfied.

“We were ready to not only get to the tournament but move on and advance in the tournament,” Brenna Wise said on Thursday. “One of our goals wasn’t only to make it but to move on and advance.”

Regardless of who was on the other end of the floor, it wasn’t ever going to be easy — not unlike this season as a whole for Indiana. Whether it be battling sluggish starts, ball security issues, or playing without their starting point guard for during a crucial three-game stretch, it’s been a season of peaks and valleys for the Hoosiers.

On a night where Ali Patberg and Brenna Wise had a combined seven points scored at halftime, Indiana again found new ways to pull it out, muscling a 69-65 victory over No. 7-seed Texas in the first round of the 2019 NCAA tournament.

“The message is easy,” Moren said postgame. “We’ve been there before and have fought our way back into a lot of games this year, and we did it once again.”

Jaelynn Penn

When she’s on, she’s on. Indiana just wouldn’t have won on Friday night without her effort. With size as a paramount concern for IU coming into the matchup with the Longhorns, Indiana had no choice but to be good from the perimeter. Ali Patberg (4-of-9, 10 points, five rebounds) might not have been her usual self, but again, Penn stepped up when she was called upon.

Penn battled a nagging ankle injury in the first part of the year but has since been an absolute machine, failing to reach double figures just once since Indiana’s game on December 28 at Illinois.

“My teammates set good screens on our plays and I took the opportunity to take good shots,” Penn said. “I was hot early so they kept getting it to me, and thankfully I was able to knock them down.”

Indiana’s struggles following slow starts have been well documented all season. Friday night in Eugene was different. Penn was a big reason why the Hoosiers were able to jump out to a 14-7 lead in the first, launching a three less than 60 seconds in.

The Hoosiers found success combatting the size mismatch by playing from the inside-out. IU packed the paint defensively, freeing up Penn and Brenna Wise to knock down timely jumpers when they were needed most. The sophomore finished the night four-of-seven from three-point range with 24 total points and four boards.

Happy homecoming

It was the story that owned the week. Bendu Yeaney was finally going back to the Pacific Northwest to play in front of her home crowd.

The Portland native has been charged with guarding the opposition’s best all season, but took things to another level altogether on both ends Friday night. Though Texas dictated pace for much of the first half, Yeaney helped lead halftime adjustments in the third period for Indiana, speeding up pace and coming up with consistent takes to the basket.

“When we got our transition game going, I thought that’s what changed the game around,” Yeaney said. “They weren’t able to keep up with us when we were running up and down the court in a fast paced game.”

Fearless as always, she was again the aggressor on the court, pitching in a big three to boot in the second half. Yeaney scored a season-high 17 points with six rebounds and three assists in front of roughly 60 friends and family members in Eugene to watch her compete.

Defensive adjustments

Despite a hot start, things didn’t look to promising for Indiana at the break. The Hoosiers looked like almost a different team altogether in the last five minutes of the half, as Texas went on a 13-2 run, leading by eight.

Indiana has already been bitten by playing a too predictable brand this season (i.e. Iowa, Megan Gustafson), but succeeded in keeping Texas guessing Friday in Eugene. When it felt like the Longhorns had bested IU with their size, the Hoosiers came out disciplined to begin the third quarter, going on a 17-3 run of their own. It would be plenty to keep the momentum and move forward in the 2019 tournament, setting a Sunday date with the host Oregon Ducks at Matthew Knight Arena.

“They just played harder than us down the stretch,” Texas guard Sug Sutton said. “We didn’t play defense the way we’re supposed to coming out of the first half, so they took a lead and ran with it. They played a really good game.”

Connor Hines

I am a sophomore from San Diego, California studying in Indiana University's Media School. Beyond my work with The Hoosier Network, I'm a broadcaster for WIUX 99.1 FM, IU's student radio station, and BTN Student U. I previously served as beat reporter for Indiana Softball during my freshman year, and I look forward to continue to deliver fresh and innovative content with softball and much more during this year. Last summer, I interned with San Diego's Mighty 1090, the flagship AM sports radio station in my hometown. Tweet me your hot takes @ConnorHines17. Email: cohines@iu.edu

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