Indiana improves to 9-0, after its 98-74 win over Missouri State Sunday afternoon, and for the most part, the results haven’t been close.
The Hoosiers are winning by an average margin of 16.6 points per game so far this season. Dating back to the WNIT championship last spring, Indiana owns the longest active streak in the nation at 15 games.
Something felt different Sunday afternoon. The offense scored at will, the defense made stops when they needed to, and five players scored in double figures.
At halftime, Indiana led 42-33 but couldn’t seem to pull away from the Lady Bears. However, in the third quarter, Indiana scored 32 points and had as large as a 17-point lead over Missouri State late in the quarter. Then in the fourth, they buckled down defensively and cruised to the 24-point victory.
Ali Patberg Threatens History
On Wednesday evening, Patberg struggled against Butler, finishing with seven turnovers. She said afterwards that she would spend the time between games working on that.
On Sunday, Patberg finished with 16 points, but most importantly, 13 assists and only three turnovers.
“I had a lot of assists because my teammates hit shots,” Patberg said. “Honestly, things like that just fall in place when you’re giving your all and you’re playing for your team.”
The Indiana record for assists in a game is 15, set by Tracy Krick in 1985. Patberg’s 13 helpers tied the transfer for second in the program’s record book for single-game assists.
“I thought Ali Patberg was especially terrific today with sharing the ball,” Teri Moren said. “I don’t think any of us were surprised with how she responded.”
Patberg also flirted with what would have been the first triple-double in program history. At halftime, she had six points, six rebounds and eight assists. She finished with 16 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds, falling just short of that triple-double.
Jaelynn Penn Playing Through the Pain
Jaelynn Penn has been battling an ankle injury for most of the season, especially lately after tweaking it in practice last week. However, Penn has found a way to be much more efficient in recent games, especially on Sunday afternoon.
Penn finished the day with a team-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. The injury is still there, but Moren says it’s something she can play through.
“I thought today she felt better,” Moren said. “We’ve tried to manage her the best we can, with that ankle. Jaelynn has now been able to play through the pain.”
The Hoosiers’ 10-day break couldn’t come at a better time for Penn, who can now give that ankle some much needed rest before the trip to Puerto Rico.
“This will definitely help getting our bodies back to normal,” Penn said. “I’m just playing my game, taking shots I normally take. Today it just went in.”
In other news on the injury front, Moren said that she hopes to have freshman Aleksa Gulbe available for their Puerto Rico games. Gulbe sprained her ankle in practice this past Tuesday and has missed the past two games.
Balanced and Unselfish Team
The Hoosiers finished Sunday’s contest with all five starters in double figures. Their next two players off the bench scored nine and eight points respectively. The balanced scoring of this team was on display in this win.
Penn: 20 points
Wise: 18 points, 7 rebounds
Patberg: 16 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds
Yeaney: 15 points, 3 assists
Royster: 10 points, 10 rebounds
Marchese: 9 points (career high)
Berger: 8 points, 2 assists
After having Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill score the bulk of the scoring for the majority of the past few seasons, this newfound balance is a positive sign for a team that seems to be improving each and every game.
“I just think we are that talented. Every single player on our team can score,” Patberg said. “The best thing about our team is that we can score, but we are willing to pass the ball. I think that’s really really hard to defend if everybody can score.”
Indiana finished the game with 22 assists on 40 made shots, well above their 13 assist-per-game average this season. Moren believes the unselfish play comes from their leaders and trickles down throughout the team.
“I think it’s because of the people that are in that locker room. I think you have unselfish kids,” Moren said. “I always say this, leadership leads. Not only are they winning some games and our scoring is spread out, but they are all about each other. They don’t care who gets the credit. All that matters to them is they’re winning basketball games.”
The Hoosiers now have 10 days until their first game of the Puerto Rico classic against Loyola Marymount. The question is, will this 9-0 Big Ten team be ranked by the time they take the floor in Puerto Rico?
In the latest rankings that came out on December 3, Indiana received five votes. Since then, the Hoosiers have added two 20 plus-point victories and are now 9-0 with the nation’s longest active win streak. Moren said they aren’t worried about the rankings and where their team stands right now.
“We don’t talk about that,” Moren said. “The only thing we talk about is how we can get better and the areas we have to focus on. They have high expectations about what they want to accomplish.”