Indiana's struggles continued Thursday night in Ann Arbor with a 67-58 loss to the Michigan Wolverines, as a potential NCAA tournament berth moved a little further out of reach.
A strong second quarter gave Indiana the five-point lead at the half, but a lack of depth gave way to the Michigan win, a fifth straight for the maize and blue. Though the Hoosiers had their opportunities throughout to take advantage, the effort just couldn't be sustained.
Second half struggles plague Hoosiers
A common theme throughout the season continued for the Hoosiers Thursday night on the road. Since day one, it has at times been a struggle to piece all 40 minutes together and sustain a high level of play from start to finish. Once again, Indiana proved to be slow out of the gate, digging itself an 8-2 deficit in the first quarter.
Though the Hoosiers outscored the Wolverines altogether 15-8 in the second quarter, a slow start to the third period made it even tougher on Teri Moren's squad to come out on top. A 7-0 run from Michigan to start the half ignited the Wolverines, and there was no looking back from there.
A slow second half also resulted in head coach Moren to look to her bench due to foul trouble. Brenna Wise and Kym Royster each finished with four fouls, while sophomore Jaelynn Penn committed three. The Hoosiers finished with 21 total team fouls, giving the Wolverines a total of 17 free opportunities from the charity stripe.
“I said to our players that other teams don’t need help scoring,’” Moren said. “Our lack of discipline really showed up in the third.”
Indiana couldn’t find much production from its bench, as Aleksa Gulbe, Keyanna Warthen and Linsey Marchese were a combined 4-14 from the field, only contributing nine points as a unit.
Hoosiers again miss Patberg
In their second full game without point guard and scoring leader Ali Patberg, who continues to sit with a shoulder injury, the Hoosiers looked elsewhere for an offensive spark.
“When you shoot 21 more shots than your opponent, you're supposed to win games,” Moren said. "As I said to our players, other teams don't need help scoring."
Bendu Yeaney and Jaelynn Penn scored 16 and 15 points respectively, but not at the most efficient clip. The duo combined to shoot 13-32 from the field, and weren’t nearly enough to carry Indiana’s offense alone. It's been another story to follow for this program this year; no one can do it alone, and on a night where IU really did need everyone to contribute in order to stay close, other role players couldn't answer the call.
Without a true point guard, Indiana seemed out of rhythm offensively and was unable to find consistent offensive production, especially in the second half. Shooting 37 percent from the field, the simple fact of not hitting open shots hurt the Hoosier’s chances tonight.
NCAA tournament hopes in question
Heading into its matchup against Michigan, it was clear that this program was in desperation mode -- desperate to get back in the win column and desperate to get back on track. Losers of seven of their last nine games, Indiana now sits at 11th place in the Big Ten with a 6-8 record.
Recently slotted as a 9-seed in Charlie Creme’s ESPN Bracketology, the Hoosiers are now squarely on the bubble. Indiana will have two more opportunities to beat ranked teams when they face no. 23 Rutgers and no. 14 Iowa at home next week.
“We have got to continue to look forward to next week,” Moren said. “Nobody feels sorry for the Hoosiers and nobody cares, so we have got to move forward.”