Ali Patberg caught the inbound pass with just 20 seconds left in the game. Down by three, Patberg dribbled to her right and forced her defender into a screen at the top of the key. At the same time, Jaelynn Penn was receiving a screen at the baseline.
Patberg dished the ball to Penn, who had beaten her defender off the screen. She caught the ball with her feet already set and sent the shot into the air.
Just like that, Indiana had tied the game for the first time since tip-off. And in overtime, Indiana dominated.
The Hoosiers escaped Assembly Hall with a 75-65 win over Wisconsin after trailing by as much as 16 and not leading once in regulation.
A number of Indiana players stepped up in order to force an overtime period. Here are my grades for each player:
Ali Patberg: A
Patberg asserted herself as the unquestioned leader of Indiana with the way she rallied her teammates to the task of overcoming a double-digit deficit. She finished the game with 20 points and six assists, both team highs.
“I was proud of just her leadership tonight,” head coach Teri Moren said, “and how she just would not let her team quit.”
She also put in her best 3-point shooting night of the season, going 4-for-8 from behind the arc and hitting most of them when they were crucial to the cause.
The only reason Patberg doesn’t receive an A+ is that overall from the field, she wasn’t terrific. She finished 7-for-19 from the field.
Jaelynn Penn: A+
Penn was the hero of Thursday’s game, not only sinking the game-tying three in regulation but also helping Indiana rally to have the opportunity to tie the game with her shooting all night. She finished with 15 and hit three 3-pointers in the process.
“I was throwing it to her,” said Patberg of Penn, “because I knew if I got her the ball she was going to make it, I had no doubt.”
Penn and Patberg are emerging as night-in, night-out dependable offensive players on a team where dependability has been an offensive word most of the season. This is both of their third straight games scoring in double figures and leading the offense. Having both Patberg and Penn continue to put up significant numbers in the scoring column on the same night could be what ends up putting this team back on the track it started the season on.
Mackenzie Holmes: A-
Holmes had a rough first half, entering the locker room with just two points and two fouls to go along with it.
Coming out of the half, though, Holmes found her rhythm and produced much of the offense for a team that was otherwise stagnant on the offensive side of the floor until the fourth quarter.
“I thought the second half,” Moren said, “she seemed way more comfortable, way more confident.”
She finished with 19 points on the night and added 10 rebounds to give her the double-double. She went 11-for-13 at the line and contributed to forcing Wisconsin’s Abby Laszewski, the Badgers’ highly skilled post player, into fouling out.
Brenna Wise: B-
Tonight’s performance was Brenna Wise’s best in the year 2020. She had an awful first half, with no points or rebounds to her name.
In the second half, especially towards the end of the fourth and in OT, she cranked up the volume. Wise scored seven points in the second half, including getting Indiana an important bucket in the third quarter to end a five-minute scoring drought. She also hit a three to bring Wisconsin’s lead within 10 points towards the end of the third period.
Aleksa Gulbe: C+
Gulbe’s performance won’t jump out of the scorebook, but she did an impressive job against Laszewski while she was on the floor as well. Laszewski entered the night averaging 11.3 points per game and left Assembly Hall with just eight, and five fouls to go along with it.
Gulbe finished the night with eight points and five rebounds but didn’t play much of a role in crunch time.
Grace Berger: D
The only reason Berger doesn’t receive an F here is because she was able to hit a three in overtime and played smart defense after picking up her fourth foul with 36 seconds to go in the third quarter.
“Berger must not have ate or drank, what she did the other night,” said Moren.
After having quite possibly the best night of her career on Monday, Thursday’s performance was catastrophic. She shot 2-for-13 from the field, and her first point didn’t come until there was 1:25 left in the fourth quarter.
On the defensive side of the ball, she also looked lost. For much of the night, she matched up with Wisconsin’s Sydney Hillard, who was able to drive past Berger with ease, catching her body turned in the wrong direction on more than one occasion. Hillard scored many of her 23 points with Berger guarding her.
The good news is, Berger is a good enough shooter to continue to put up shots in volume and not let a night like this impact her performance in future games.
Indiana has now captured three straight victories and seem to be back on the right track after a three-game skid. The team’s next contest will come against Purdue in West Lafayette on Monday, Feb. 3. The game tips off at 6 p.m. and can be found on BTN or WHCC 105.1.