The past year in Indiana athletics gave us a little bit of everything. This summer, the HN staff is recounting the best from the year. Each week, we’re revealing a new game, moment, or memory which stood out to us as worthy of a spot in our #HNTop10. It all culminates in August with our best moment from the year.
We continue the countdown with #7 on our list — IUWBB’s thrilling win over Megan Gustafson and the Hawkeyes.
The Hoosiers had lost their last four games, all after a shoulder injury to their star point guard, Ali Patberg.
After being a favorite to make it to the big dance at the turn of the new year, Indiana had lost eight of its last ten, heading into a showdown with No. 10 Iowa in Bloomington.
This wasn’t just any top-10 team. This group featured soon-to-be Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Gustafson, who was a double-double machine. She finished the season averaging 27.9 points and 13.4 rebounds per game.
However, this was the return of Patberg from injury. She returned to a team who was desperate for a win and for their point guard to take over the offense again.
After the first quarter, it was 24-12 Iowa. The Hoosiers had a plan against Gustafson, but the other role players for the Hawkeyes were knocking down threes. Iowa went 6-of-8 from long range in the opening quarter. A big three pointer from Patberg pulled the Hoosiers within single digits at halftime, 38-30.
Welcome back Ali Patberg! The redshirt junior is back from a shoulder injury and making an instant impact, including a big three at the end of the half. Iowa leads #iuwbb 38-30 at the break. pic.twitter.com/L0fyDCKYi8
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) February 22, 2019
After a jumper from Gustafson with 5:38 to play in the third quarter, it was 49-33 Iowa, with the result seemingly in hand for the Hawkeyes against an under-matched Indiana team.
Then Brenna Wise hit a three.
Then Patberg hit a three. And another one.
Then Grace Berger and Kym Royster hit jumpers.
Then the quarter ended on another Wise three. It was 54-51 Iowa.
The Hoosiers closed the third quarter on a 18-5 run, to the tune of 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc in the quarter. It seemed to be anyone’s ball game now.
Iowa opened the fourth with a couple baskets to push it to eight. Indiana answered. Jaelynn Penn joined the three-point party with a game-tying three with seven minutes to go. Wise knocked down yet another three to take their first lead with 5:50 to go.
Then, with 22 seconds left, Iowa’s Tania Davis knocked down a cold-blooded three to tie the game up at 73. It was Indiana’s ball with one shot left.
They could have drawn up a play for Wise, who had 24 points and had made four three-pointers. They could have given the ball to Patberg, who had 21 points and six three-pointers in her return to the court.
Enter Bendu Yeaney.
Yeaney had been on the bench for most of the fourth quarter with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting. However, Teri Moren gave her sophomore from Oregon the ball in a tie game and gave her the chance to win the game. And she delivered.
Yeaney found the bottom of the net with three seconds left to put the Hoosiers ahead, and after a missed three by Iowa, the Hoosiers came out victorious, upsetting the No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes, 75-73.
IUWBB upset No. 10 Iowa Thursday night to snap their four-game losing streak in exciting fashion.
Brenna Wise led the team with 24 points and Ali Patberg chipped in 21 in her return to the court.
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) February 22, 2019
We went into the game not knowing if we would even see Patberg, and if so, for how long? Her teammates had been struggling without her, losing four straight. The team didn’t have any momentum, losing eight of its last 10. Yeaney was benched in the fourth quarter, struggling to find her flow offensively.
None of that mattered. Patberg showed up in a way that only she could have having missed time with an injury. Her partner in crime, Wise, followed suit, leading the team in scoring. And after sitting for almost the entirety of the fourth, Yeaney came in and delivered the dagger.
And what about Gustafson? She was held to 26 points — below her season per game average. Linsey Marchese did an excellent job making any touch Gustafson had difficult. She had just ten points in the fourth quarter, with two coming from the free throw line.
Not only did this stop the losing skid, but it also ended up being the main reason Indiana was able to get into the NCAA Tournament. A win against the 10th best team in the country was enough to propel their resume over the others on the bubble. It was a win over a team the committee ended up placing on the two-line come tournament time.
The Hoosiers followed up the win later in the season with a dominating win over Purdue at home to close out the regular season, and a victory in a must-win game in the Big Ten Tournament against Minnesota. They took that same Iowa team deep into the fourth quarter in Indianapolis before falling just short in the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals. They also won their opener in the NCAA Tournament over seven-seeded Texas, who was ranked No. 23 in the last poll before the tournament.
It’s safe to say that if Indiana had not upset Iowa, the Hoosiers may have missed the NCAA Tournament and might have been playing for another WNIT title, something they enjoyed, but certainly didn’t want to do again. Instead, they sat in their locker room on Selection Monday, watched their name be announced, and went out to Oregon, winning an NCAA Tournament game. A whole lot of that can be attributed to the way the Hoosiers played on the night of February 21 inside Assembly Hall.