It’s tough to win a basketball game going over eight minutes without scoring. Indiana (10-2) found that out the hard way Sunday afternoon, falling to No. 10 UCLA (11-0), 68-58.
A huge first-quarter hole proved to be too much to overcome for the Hoosiers. Indiana trailed 15-4 after the first quarter, ending the quarter on a 5:49 stretch without points.
That continued for over two minutes in the second quarter before back-to-back threes from Jaelynn Penn woke the Hoosiers up. But the hole was just too deep for Indiana.
Sloppy, sloppy game
No matter how competitive the game became in the second half, this was not a pretty basketball game.
In the first quarter, Indiana scored four points and shot 2-for-16 (12.5 percent) from the floor. By the end of the first half, Indiana turned the ball over 13 times.
After four quarters of play, Indiana finished with 15 turnovers (much better in the second half), 34.5 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent from three, making only four long balls.
“Some of that had to do with UCLA other parts were due to the fact that we had some nice looks,” Indiana Head Coach Teri Moren said. “Our guard play was not very good, below average. Obviously, we struggled from the free throw line.”
Sometimes, it’s good defense that forces missed shots and turnovers. Well, defense can’t force missed free throws, and Indiana had plenty of those. They finished 14-for-24 (58 percent) from the line. And hey, the final score was a 10-point game.
UCLA wasn’t a whole lot better. The Bruins finished the day with 13 turnovers and shot the ball at 33 percent from the floor.
Stars were too quiet
In big games, your star players have to step up and make big plays. That didn’t really happen for Indiana. They made a few second-half runs, but for the most part, their stars were quieted by UCLA.
Only one player scored in double figures and that was the freshman Mackenzie Holmes. Brenna Wise finished with nine points on 2-for-9 shooting, Ali Patberg scored nine points on 3-for-11 shooting, and Grace Berger finished with four points on 2-for-7 shooting.
Wise hit a couple big threes but missed many more that could have tied the game. Patberg struggled to keep the UCLA guards in front defensively. Berger was noticeably quiet for most of the game.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump today for so many reasons,” Moren said.
In big games, you need your best players to have big games. That was not the case for Indiana on Sunday.
Mackenzie Holmes and the defense shine again
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Hoosiers. Defensively, they held UCLA to 33 percent shooting and 28 percent from long range. The issue was allowing Michaela Onyenwere and Japreece Dean to combine for 49 points. Outside of them, UCLA scored just 19 points.
Outside of Dean’s 10 free throw attempts, the rest of the team combined for only 10 attempts. So, Indiana held an explosive offense in check and kept them off the free throw line, but the offense couldn’t follow suit.
The bright spot offensively was the play of Holmes. She continues to impress in the first half of the season, scoring 13 more points Sunday and added seven rebounds. She stayed out of foul trouble as well, something Indiana really needs from her.
Overall, this was an opportunity blown by Indiana. But, if an off day is good enough to compete with the No. 10 team in the country, that’s a good sign for Indiana. It’s just too hard to win basketball games when you build an 18-4 hole and go over eight minutes without scoring.
The Hoosiers will have a fresh slate next week when they start big ten play against No. 19 Michigan State Saturday afternoon.