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.
Let’s kick off the top five with one of the most memorable wins from the year.
The 2018-19 season was a roller coaster for the Indiana women’s basketball team, full of ups, downs, and unexpected turns.
Whether it was the incredibly hot start to the season, losing seven games in a ten-game stretch, beating No. 10 Iowa, or eventually falling to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament, a moment that can’t go forgotten was game one of the NCAA Tournament against Texas.
IU was fresh off an impressive performance in the Big Ten Tournament, but many bracket experts had the Hoosiers squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble even after such a result. After a second round win over Minnesota in Indianapolis, many suggested that Indiana had no choice but to ‘keep it close’ with top seed Iowa in the quarterfinals to secure its bid to the big dance.
The Hoosiers did more than just hold their own. Despite falling to the eventual conference champion Hawkeyes, Teri Moren’s group fought down to the wire against some of the toughest competition in the country, eventually falling to Iowa 61-70.
Thanks in part to Ali Patberg’s team leading 25 points in the quarterfinal game, the Hoosiers would hear their name called on Selection Monday. Indiana was named the No. 10 seed in the Spokane region, set to open against No. 7 Texas in Eugene.
The Longhorns were having a solid season up to that point in March; while Texas did have some quality wins to its name, the group’s most apparent flaw was its 1-6 record against teams ranked inside the top 25.
Headed into the tournament, many favored the Longhorns because of their strength of schedule. But others knew if the Hoosiers could play to their potential — the same way they did just weeks before in Indy — they could move forward.
Indiana would come out of the gates strong, leading the Longhorns 23-17 at then end of the first quarter. Though the momentum briefly swung back to Texas (IU was outscored 17-6 in the second quarter), Jaelynn Penn again came through when it mattered most.
— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) March 23, 2019
Despite a phenomenal freshman season the year before, Penn had struggled at times throughout the year to find her stroke. However, against the Longhorns, the sophomore again caught fire, hitting three triples in the first half and carrying her team through the second quarter slump.
In the second half, domination continued. Out of the locker room, Penn picked up right where she left off, leading the way with 24 points, plenty good enough for a four-point win over a strong Texas team.
Though No. 2 seed Oregon was far too much for Indiana just two days later (the Ducks would dance all the way to the Final Four in Tampa), March marked a new beginning for IU in more ways than one.
Despite the loss, the team’s tournament result — and season as a whole — showed that Indiana could compete with the best competition in the entire country. With wins against Iowa and close battles with Rutgers and Maryland, Indiana has proven to be far more consistent than a fluke team.
The program has four postseason appearances to its name in the last five seasons under Teri Moren, who has emerged as one of the best coaches in the conference. With some of the state’s top recruits signed to come to Indiana as soon as this winter, the future of the program is shining brighter than perhaps ever before.
Congratulations to 2019 Indiana Miss Basketball 🏆 recipient Jorie Allen of Bedford North Lawerence presented by our very own @Goss_theBoss13 and @SMavunga_23, two former Indiana Miss Basketball winners as well! 👏#AllForLove | #Fever20 pic.twitter.com/ZHIRvvj5F7
— Indiana Fever ⛹️♀️🏀 (@IndianaFever) May 6, 2019
This is a team that has continued building dating back to the arrivals of Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, the two who are often credited with putting Indiana back on the map once and for all in the Big Ten. Ali Patberg and Brenna Wise’s transfers from Notre Dame and Pitt respectively helped continue the trend.
Looking ahead, the team returns all starters with the exception of Kym Royster and a group of talented recruits jump on board this summer. Toss in the excitement of Patberg being granted an additional year of NCAA eligibility, and the anticipation for women’s basketball at Indiana might be at an all-time high. Head Coach Teri Moren has continued to show what she is able to do with limited rosters, but the upcoming season will have one of the best lineups in team history.
It’s difficult to argue that last season was a disappointment for Indiana in any way. While it may not have finished with a win, it may have been the season that changes the long term future of women’s basketball at Indiana.