Indiana’s season ended more than two thousand miles away from where it began. After knocking off Texas in the first round Friday night, Indiana wasn’t sharp enough to defeat the No. 2 seeded Oregon Ducks, ultimately falling in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, 91-68.
Indiana got away with being heavily out-rebounded and playing a sluggish second quarter against Texas, escaping with a four-point win. Those mistakes compounded today, and they weren’t able to overcome them against a national-title contender.
Against Oregon, the Hoosiers missed too many easy buckets, turned the ball over too many times and struggled on both ends against their length and athleticism.
Ali Patberg led the way for Indiana with 16 points and five assists while Jaelynn Penn added 15 points and six rebounds. Indiana finished the game shooting 46 percent from the floor. They went 4-for-17 from beyond the arc, a 24-percent performance in their season finale.
On the other end of the floor, Oregon shot 52 percent from the floor and 45 percent from long range. Oregon out-rebounded the Hoosiers 41-to-27 and capitalized off Indiana’s 12 turnovers, scoring 26 points those mistakes.
“I thought we lost our discipline for several moments, but I loved our effort,” Moren said. “That’s one of the things that I’ve loved about this team from the beginning of the season. Why we’re sitting here tonight is because they are truly competitors. They’ve just shown time and time again their toughness and their grittiness to win ball games and be in ball games.”
The season also ended with something Indiana has dealt with all season. Bendu Yeaney and Jaelynn Penn struggled with nagging injuries all season and Ali Patberg missed three games due to a shoulder injury. On Sunday night, Yeaney went down with what appeared to be a non-contact lower leg injury in the third quarter and didn’t return, ending her season early.
A look at Bendu Yeaney who has made it back to the bench for the Hoosiers. Hate to see this scene in her return to Oregon.
— Josh Eastern (@JoshEastern) March 25, 2019
Yeaney was playing in front of many friends and family members for the first time since leaving her hometown of Portland, Oregon for Bloomington last season. She appeared to be a good amount of pain as she was helped off the court to the locker room. Before she went down, Yeaney had 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
“She’s struggled throughout the season with some Achilles issues. At this point, I can’t comment,” Moren said. “She came out there and hit a jump shot early in the second half to try to get us going, so it was a shame that she couldn’t finish out the game in front of her family and friends but for us, in particular.”
As Indiana watched their season slowly come to an end in the fourth quarter, a foul was called on the Hoosiers that brought Moren to her feet. She showed her displeasure and was eventually assessed a technical foul for her actions. Even though Oregon was up almost 20 at this point, Moren refused to quit on her team, and while they struggled throughout this one, this team never gave up on her.
It would have been easy to pack it in after losing six of seven. It would have been easy to give up on the season after being embarrassed at Northwestern. This team never quit. They upset No. 10 Iowa in Patberg’s first game back and routed Purdue to finish the regular season. Then they won a game in the Big Ten tournament and earned a trip back to the NCAA Tournament.
— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) March 25, 2019
To top it all off, the Hoosiers won an NCAA tournament game and played admirably for three quarters or so against the two-seed Ducks on their home floor in front of a packed house. It would have been easy to be content, as a 10 seed, to win your first tournament game and be done. However, this team wanted more. And for a few portions of the first and second quarters, they even had a lead on the two seed.
“We started off really strong, and coach told us at the beginning of the season that we were going to have lows and we had to fight threw them,” Patberg said. “I think, personally as a leader, there are certain times in the season that I let my guard down, but every game and practice is important. I know that I learned that personally this season, and my teammates learned that.”
If you remember anything about the 2018-19 Indiana women’s basketball team, remember that they never gave up. They faced numerous ups and downs during the 34-game season. In the end, Moren and company won 20 games for the fourth straight season and earned their second NCAA Tournament berth and tournament win in four years.
“I’m just really proud of how this team has stayed connected and how they enjoy playing with one another,” Moren said. “They love each other, care about each other, and want each other to have success. That’s what you want as a coach, as well as winning and playing in the NCAA Tournament. The love for each other is there, we just have to get better individually as players. When we do that, our team will benefit and get better as a whole. I’m really just proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish.”
Senior forward Kym Royster finished her IU career with 8 points on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting night. She and former walk-on Grace Withrow will graduate, but everyone else is set to return next season. However, it’s not the time to think about next season.
Now is the time to reflect on the season that was. A season that contained its fair share of adversity, with injuries and losing streaks. But it was a season that ended with an NCAA tournament appearance, a tournament victory and a respectable performance that fell short against a talented Oregon team.
“I’m just extremely proud of everyone,” Penn said. “We fought really hard through our season and this game. We weren’t supposed to be here, so next year we will be back.”