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‘That was pretty special’: Jaelynn Penn’s career night leads Indiana women’s basketball to win over Michigan

During the first quarter of Indiana’s 70-60 win over Michigan, Brenna Wise had to come out of the game due to picking up two early fouls.From that moment forward, the game belonged to Jaelynn Penn.

Wise had 11 points in the less than seven minutes in the first quarter, including a four-point play, while Penn ended the first frame with just three points on 1-of-3 shooting. But after that second foul from Wise was when Penn took the game into her own hands.

Ali Patberg said in a timeout around that time that Penn needed to get the ball more, and that’s what the Hoosiers did. In the second quarter, the sophomore out of Louisville was 5-of-7 from the field including 3-of-4 from behind the arc. That was apart of her career high 28-point performance.

“When she takes her time, she’s been more accurate versus rushing her outside shot,” IU coach Teri Moren said. “Jaelynn’s playing through pain right now and she stepped up in a big way.”

It seems whenever the Hoosiers have needed a big bucket this season, they have turned to Penn. Against UCLA and Michigan State she hit a dagger 3-pointer. That happened again Thursday when Penn squared up from the right wing and buried another 3-point jumper. It put the Hoosiers up 65-58 with 1:10 left. Seven points would be the closest Michigan would be for the rest of the night.

It was especially sweet for Penn to hit that shot, and have such a big game, after the heartbreaking loss at Purdue on Sunday. Penn had a shot late to take the lead, but couldn’t get it to fall. She made sure that didn’t happen again on Thursday.

“Getting back in that win column is important to us after losing two in a row,” Penn said. “We were all anxious to get out here and get this W.”

Penn said she credits her teammates for driving the lane and being able to kick the ball out to find her open for three’s. She ended the night 6-of-7 from behind the arc. That could be attributed to having her “bounce” back.

“When she’s got that bounce, it’s going in,” Patberg said after the Michigan State win. “We can start running back when we see that bounce.”

The bounce is all apart of the confidence that Penn has been displaying on the court. Thursday was the most three’s she’s made in a game all season and is the fourth 20+ point performance of the season for the sophomore.

Earlier on in the season, Penn was battling a nagging ankle injury, which contributed to a bit of a slow start. Moren still says she is battling through that same ankle injury. Nonetheless, her coach is confident that nothing has changed with Penn.

“Jaelynn looks for opportunities inside the game, especially on offense,” Moren said. “I think she realizes she has opportunities to knock down shots, she also has opportunities to attack, trying to get herself to the basket… Nothing has changed. The thing that Jaelynn allows herself to do is let the game come to her.”

But the one thing Moren said, and what makes this team so dangerous, is the group around Penn. Sure Penn had 28 points Thursday night, but the next night it could be someone else to have a career night.

Whatever it takes to win is what this team is going to do.

“We have Brenna Wise, Ali Patberg, Bendu Yeaney,” Penn said. “We have someone other than me that can do big things on the court, so that helps.”

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