The Indiana women’s basketball team tightened the Big Ten race thanks to an efficient offensive performance to take Iowa down 85-72. With the win, the Hoosiers became the third team in the Big Ten to reach nine conference wins.
While the Hoosiers (9-2 in conference play) are still chasing Maryland (9-1) for first place, they have put pressure on second-place Michigan (5-1) as the Wolverines return from their COVID-19 hiatus. Indiana shot over 60 percent from the field in the fourth quarter versus Iowa, which was a welcomed sight after blowing a late lead to Ohio State on Jan 28.
On the second edition of “HN Film Room” we will break down a few of the offensive plays that led Indiana to another conference win on Sunday.
The Indiana defense struggled to contain Iowa in the first half and IU faces a 31-22 deficit midway through the second quarter. Jaelynn Penn had opted out of the rest of the season on Feb. 7, leaving a hole for the Hoosiers to fill.
Grace Berger starts with the ball on the wing. She receives a screen from Kiandra Brown and now has the choice to drive or kick the ball out. Berger first elects to drive, and all five Iowa defenders turn their attention to her.
Berger waits the perfect amount of time to deliver her pass to Aleksa Gulbe on the left wing. Because Iowa’s defense collapsed into the paint to stop Berger’s drive, the Hoosiers are in business. Gulbe has an open look but elects to make an extra pass.
Gulbe’s extra pass frees up Nicole Cardaño-Hillary for a wide-open look near the top of the key. Cardaño-Hillary will be a crucial player down the stretch for Indiana after Penn opted out of the rest of the season.
The second half starts with fast-paced play from both sides. Indiana has a two-point lead at this point, and is looking to improve on a so-so first half performance. The Hoosiers are at their best when they are beating teams on the fast break, scoring 16 points off turnovers and 10 fast-break points versus Iowa.
Indiana has the luxury of having three guards who can run the offense at any given time. Patberg, Cardaño-Hillary and Berger are all capable ball-handlers, which speeds up Indiana’s ability to ignite the fast break. This play starts with great spacing from Indiana: Cardaño-Hillary brining the ball up the middle with Gulbe running to the rim and Patberg and Berger on the wings.
After Cardaño-Hillary’s drive and kick to Berger on the wing, Berger again pushes the ball to the paint. Because of her threat to drive and hit her patented pull-up jump shot, Berger has attracted four Iowa defenders to the paint. This allows her to find Patberg on the wing.
Iowa’s commitment to slowing down Berger in the paint makes it difficult for any Hawkeye defenders to close out on Patberg in time. Indiana is shooting just 28 percent from beyond the arc this season, but when the Hoosiers can drive and kick like this, open shots will be available all game.
Indiana has gone on a 21-9 run between play No. 1 and play No. 2, and the offense is starting to find a rhythm.
The Hoosiers dominated most of the second half versus Iowa, and scoring down low was a big reason why. Indiana outscored Iowa 50-36 on points in the paint on Sunday.
It turns out to be a pretty simple play, but it starts with some deception. Patberg begins to drive towards the free-throw line as Cardaño-Hillary tries to fake her defender out with a backdoor cut.
Cardaño-Hillary has a step on her defender, and you can see that Patberg considered trying this pass, but the timing needed to be perfect. Instead, Patberg decides to keep it herself. Cardaño-Hillary runs through the lane and clears out, taking her defender with her.
Because of Cardaño-Hillary’s cut and Indiana’s spacing, Patberg now has a one-on-one matchup in the post. The Iowa defenders half-heartedly dig down to try to steal the ball from Patberg, but she is able to spin and complete the play, extending Indiana’s lead.
Indiana’s next game versus Penn State on Wednesday will tip off at 3 p.m. at Assembly Hall, and will be televised on Big Ten Network. Penn State enters the game with an 8-7 record overall and 5-6 record in conference play.
Indiana’s offense started to click when it was driving the ball hard in the lane and kicking it out to open shooters. While Indiana hasn’t been a great 3-point shooting team all season, the Hoosiers will need plays like these in order to take down Penn State.