On the heels of a major victory over No. 10 Iowa at home on Thursday, the Hoosiers couldn’t string together a win streak as Northwestern took down Indiana, 69-49.
It was once again another slow start for Indiana against Northwestern. Much like the other matchup between these two teams in January, Indiana came out slow and thus was playing from behind. Indiana tied it briefly in the second quarter, but after that, it was all Northwestern.
Indiana came into Tuesday’s game squarely on the bubble, but this loss will not help the NCAA Tournament hopes. A win on Sunday at home to close the regular season vs. Purdue is a must.
Now, three takeaways from an ugly night in Evanston.
Another slow start
Before Indiana cracked the scoreboard, IU coach Teri Moren had already called a timeout. It was 6-0 Northwestern and the Wildcats would get it up to 8-0 before a Brenna Wise 3-pointer got the Hoosiers going. But once again, it was a slow start for the Hoosiers that had them playing catch up from the get go.
"Just disappointed," Moren said. "Just seemed like both sides of the ball tonight, nothing went well and nothing went right."
When the first quarter came to a close, the Hoosiers had shot just 4-of-14 with six turnovers. Indiana had scored just 10 points, but if there was a positive, it was that they weren’t down by more. Overall though, playing from behind makes it very difficult to be successful. It’s something Indiana will need to be cognizant of and avoid moving forward.
More bad shooting
Much like Indiana starting slow, poor shooting percentages have also marred the Hoosiers at times this season. Tuesday was another case of that as Indiana shot just 19-of-61 (31.1 percent) and were 5-of-18 from behind the arc.
The second quarter got the Hoosiers back into the game, however. They shot 46 percent and trailed by just two points heading into halftime, but that quarter was followed up by the Hoosiers making just nine shots the rest of the game. Indiana also wasn’t able to crack 50 points. Tuesday was also the 11th game the Hoosiers shot under 40 percent on the season.
"It's disappointing you come off of such a great win against a really good Iowa team that you come out flat and could never get anything going," Moren said. "That was for a full 40."
The leading scorer for Indiana was Jaelynn Penn with 12 points followed by Ali Patberg with 11. No other Hoosier scored in double figures. But as Wise said following Thursday's upset of Iowa, Moren has instilled confidence in her team to keep shooting their shot. They didn't fall Tuesday, but they will need them to start falling again soon.
What this means for the Big Ten/NCAA Tournaments
With the loss, the Hoosiers remain a game behind Purdue and Nebraska and in the 11 spot in the Big Ten standings with a 7-10 record in the conference. For Indiana to avoid playing in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, the Hoosiers would have to beat Purdue and hope Penn State can knock off Nebraska. Indiana has the tiebreaker over Nebraska based off of a head to head win on February 3.
As for the NCAA Tournament, this loss does nothing to help Indiana’s chances. Charlie Creme, ESPN’s women’s basketball bracketologist had the Hoosiers as a 10-seed in his latest bracket and one of the last four teams in his bracket. This loss, especially by 20 points, most likely puts Indiana on the outside looking in, but if the Hoosiers can beat Purdue Sunday and win at least two games in the Big Ten Tournament, then they might have a better argument of getting into the field.
There is still basketball left to be played, but time is running out for the Hoosiers to impress the committee.