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Berger’s triple-double, Holmes’ season-high lead Indiana to win over Penn State

Despite missing one of their most valuable players in Jaelynn Penn, the Hoosiers didn’t miss a beat Thursday, cruising to an 85-64 win on the road against Penn State. The offense in the second half was a huge reason the Hoosiers made the game the way it was. 

The trio of Ali Patberg, Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes was key in the road victory. Holmes completely took over, scoring a season-high 27 points. After a quiet night Monday, Patberg had some huge baskets when the Nittany Lions began to double-team Holmes inside. 

History was also made Thursday, as Berger had the second triple-double in program history with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. The other triple-double? Berger’s 17-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist game in the season opener against Eastern Kentucky.

“I always come into a game trying to make plays for my teammates,” Berger said Thursday. “I think early on I wasn’t getting shots. So my mindset transitioned to getting Ali, who was hot, shots. I just wasn’t really feeling my shot so I just tried to find my teammates down the court.”

Penn, who missed the game after suffering an ankle injury in Monday’s loss to Maryland, missed the game after starting the first eight games of the season.

Indiana got off to the start it needed, going on a 9-2 run in the opening minutes. But Penn State responded immediately with a 10-0 run of its own. The transition play of the Nittany Lions had the Hoosiers out of sorts for a bit, as Penn State was able to find Johnasia Cash inside for some easy buckets. It seemed like whenever Indiana had good transition defense, the Nittany Lions struggled to score.

The Hoosiers found their offense later in the first half, as Penn State seemed to have no answer for Holmes. Double-teams and all, the sophomore seemed to find many ways to score around the basket and served as a huge source of Indiana’s points. As soon as Penn State was able to lock down the post play, Patberg began hitting shots from the field to find ways to score in the Nittany Lions zone. The senior said she treated her mental preparation like she would any other game.

“I came in and I was focused on playing like I know how [to],” Patberg said. “Just playing the game I love and free, and not hesitating and overthinking anything.“

But like the first quarter, the Nittany Lions responded by getting Cash and their main scorer Kelly Jekot going from the field, as the two were the main reason for Penn State scoring points. Indiana was still not able to pull away from the Nittany Lions at the end of the first, as the teams went into the locker room with the Hoosiers up three.

Outside shooting and continuing to get the ball inside helped the Hoosiers jump out to a 10-point lead early in the third quarter. Patberg and Holmes continued to score at will and found holes in Penn State’s defense. Indiana’s transition offense also had the Nittany Lions out of sorts, as Penn State turnovers turned into quick outlet passes for buckets by Grace Berger.

Indiana simply used its momentum to keep up the work on offense in the final quarter. Holmes could not be stopped, as it seemed like every time she had the ball it was going in the basket. But it was the Hoosier defense that closed out the game down the stretch, as Indiana constantly got steals to keep Penn State from scoring. From what was a close game at the start, Indiana ended up cruising to an 85-64 win.

Impressively, Indiana had just two turnovers against Penn State. With a team that rotates well and plays a zone like the Nittany Lions, the limited turnovers were a huge reason Indiana found success Thursday. Head coach Teri Moren praised her team for playing smart with the ball. 

“It was tremendous,” Moren said. “And this is a team that pressed us. Every made field goal, they were in some sort of three-quarter court [press] and towards the end they went full man-to-man [press]. It’s different when you can just walk it up and run your sets, but it’s a whole other deal when you’re facing some pressure in the backcourt, and I thought we handled ourselves in a terrific way.”

The Hoosiers now come back home to Bloomington on Sunday where they will match up with 3-5 Wisconsin. The Badgers are on a three-game skid right now, so the Hoosiers will deal with another feisty team that needs a win here in conference play.

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