BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — While the Hoosiers walked off the court for the final time this season after a 75-58 loss to Connecticut in the Sweet Sixteen, a specific Hoosier walked off for the final time after seven years of college basketball.
Graduate student Ali Patberg dropped 16 points, two assists and one rebound in the final game of her career. This year was her seventh year playing collegiate basketball and her fifth year with the Hoosiers. After the Saturday night loss, Patberg’s emotions came out as she played for the final time in her career.
“Disappointed we lost, I’m not a good loser,” Patberg said. “This is not how I envisioned going out but I’m just thankful coach (Teri) Moren believed in me five years ago and gave me an opportunity to wear ‘Hoosier’ on my chest. I just hope that the time I had at IU, people just remember how hard I played and I was a good teammate, and worked as hard as I could. I’m thankful, but it hurts right now. But I’m thankful.”
Patberg, a Columbus, Indiana native, came to IU for the 2017-2018 season after having played two seasons at Notre Dame. In those five years at Indiana Patberg became one of the most successful and accomplished players the program has ever had. Patberg became the 15th player at Indiana to have scored more than 1,000 points while also being a part of two consecutive March Madness appearances.
Patberg has started every game since the beginning of the 2019-20 season. This year Patberg played an average of 34.3 minutes a game after leading the team to a 24-9 record. After five years, Patberg played and started 122 games, scored 1,736 points, and recorded a total of 4,264 minutes played.
With 1:12 left in the fourth quarter, the longtime Hoosier exited the game for the final time. A clearly emotional Patberg went to the end of the bench and wrapped a towel around her head. When Patberg lifted up the towel from her face, emotions were clear on Patberg’s face as she sat in tears watching the final seconds of her collegiate career. Patberg spoke about what it means to be from Indiana while wearing that Hoosier jersey on the court for one final time.
“Yeah, it means a lot to me,” Patberg said. “I can’t even put it into words. Like I said, I’m just thankful that I got the opportunity to play for coach Moren. I love everything that our team represents and our school. I know they’re going to continue to get better and grow and have success and I can’t wait to see that and just know that I was a small, small part of it.”
With one All-Big Ten First Team and two All-Big Ten Second Team selections, Patberg’s legacy will remain when it comes to Indiana basketball and Moren knows best what Patberg means to the university and the program.
“She’s meant so much to this program,” Moren said. “You can tell by her emotion that she is obviously very sad that it’s over. Even though she was blessed enough to have seven years of college, that’s not lost on AP (Ai Patberg). She realizes that it was a true blessing to be able to stay in Indiana and play another year.
“She’s our leader. She’s our leader on the floor. She’s our leader off the floor. She’s going to be missed.”