Despite being down 13 points on the road at one point, the Hoosiers managed to scrap out a win on the road against the Quinnipiac Bobcats 67-59.
Grace Berger was huge for Indiana down the stretch, as she picked up 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. There were three other Hoosiers in double figure scoring Saturday, as Ali Patberg had 12, along with Mackenzie Holmes and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary both having 10 respectively.
IU’s offense got off to a slow start early on in the first quarter, as their first points didn’t come until two and a half minutes into the game. A layup from Cardaño-Hillary would be the team’s only points for another two minutes, as Quinnipiac went on a 10-2 run to put the Hoosiers in quite the unfamiliar position. Foul trouble was also not in Indiana’s favor, as the Bobcats got to the line fairly early in the first quarter.
Turnovers also continued to be a problem for Indiana, as the Hoosiers struggled to respond after a bucket from the Bobcats. Quinnipiac’s interior defense was also very good down the stretch of the first quarter, as the Hoosiers had trouble shooting the ball inside in the first quarter. With the sloppy first quarter that it was, the Hoosiers were fortunate to only find themselves down six early on.
Two early 3s in the second quarter turned the Bobcat lead from six to 10, and suddenly the Hoosiers found themselves down double digits for the first time this whole season. Indiana had a tough time closing out on the shooters Quinnipiac had, and the shots the Bobcats made seemed to have rattled Indiana on the defensive end. Down by at one point 13 points, the Hoosiers knew a change needed to be made in order to avoid an upset.
And that comeback began as soon as Kiandra Browne muscled her way for two layups of back-to-back possessions against the Bobcat defense. After Browne’s last layup with 4:41 to go in the first half, it seemed the Hoosiers had more confidence on the offensive end with Aleksa Gulbe and Berger hitting some big shots to cut Quinnipiac’s lead to just six at the end of the third quarter. With the Hoosiers being a second half team all year, they looked to use that to make a comeback in the final 20 minutes.
IU was getting the stops it needed on the defensive end early in the third, but just couldn’t respond offensively to take the lead. Patberg and Cardaño-Hillary did a good job of rebounding the ball and trying to get baskets in transition, but they just wouldn’t fall for the Hoosiers. This allowed the Bobcats to extend the lead for a moment, but Indiana found its groove shortly after.
The Hoosiers were very aggressive in trying to wear down the Quinnipiac defense, and it ended up working out at the end of the third quarter. Holmes got a couple of layups and Berger hit some big jumpers to eventually tie the game up and revive Indiana’s energy. Ending on a Patberg 3-pointer with six seconds to go in the third, Indiana had the confidence necessary to put away the Bobcats in what was a much closer game than expected.
And the Hoosiers were all business to start off the final 10 minutes of play, hitting their first four shots of the quarter and extending their lead to eight points. The defense came out with lots of energy to start the fourth as well, turning over the Bobcats a couple of times to get some easier shots.
But give credit to Quinnipiac, as it didn’t just take one big Hoosier run to put the Bobcats away. The Bobcats managed to keep it a two possession ball game late in the fourth, putting some pressure on the Hoosiers to make some big plays. With the Hoosiers knocking down their free throws at a 92.3 percent clip, closing out the game was not a problem, as IU escaped Hamden, Connecticut with a win 67-59.
Indiana is now 4-0 on the season, the fourth time in the Teri Moren era that the Hoosiers have done so. This Thursday will be the biggest test coming up for this Hoosier squad, as they take on the No. 3-ranked and defending national champion Stanford Cardinal. We know what the offense is capable of doing in big games, but it will be the defense that needs to show up against all of Stanford’s offensive firepower if the Hoosiers want to get a program-defining win on Thursday.