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'The Hoosiers are excited to be here': Indiana women's basketball readying for first NCAA Tournament since 2016

Indiana women’s basketball is where it wants to be.

All season long, the talk has been about getting back to the NCAA Tournament. IU coach Teri Moren said at the beginning of the season the WNIT title last season was good, but it wasn’t the ultimate goal. When Monday’s bracket was leaked, the Hoosiers saw they were ultimately in the 64-team field.

So when Indiana takes the floor Friday night at Matthew-Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon against the No. 7-seed Texas Longhorns, the No. 10-seed Hoosiers will be in an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2016. It’s been a long time coming, but Indiana isn’t content with just the one game. They’re happy they made it, but they want to be in Eugene longer than just one game.

“We’re hungry, we’re still chasing the same end goal that all other 63 teams are chasing,” IU forward Brenna Wise said. “So, we’re not just going to settle and say we’re content with getting in. We got more to be done.”

The past two seasons Indiana has been squarely on the bubble. Two seasons ago Indiana was most likely a Big Ten Tournament win over Purdue away from clinching a bid, but couldn’t get it done. Then a season ago, the Hoosiers had a few too many non-conference losses to make the field of 64.

But this season, Indiana was able to overcome both of those shortcomings. They lost just one game in the non-conference and were able to scrap together enough Big Ten wins, including a Big Ten Tournament win over Minnesota, to get into the field. Indiana has won a game in the past three postseasons. Because of that, the Hoosiers feel like that can help them again in 2019.

“Certainly our goal is the NCAA tournament,” Wise said. “It was a great opportunity to enter the WNIT and I think that the fact we won it was a great accomplishment, great this for our community, our team, we got great experience. To play, to survive, and to advance. But that wasn’t our goal this year. We had bigger and better goals for ourselves and it is time to put those goals into actions.”

The Hoosiers will go up against a Texas team that finished 23-9 overall and 12-6 in the Big 12. The Longhorns also finished 28th in the latest RPI rankings. But junior point guard Sug Sutton who has played in 100 games for the Longhorns is the one to watch for the Longhorns. She is shooting over 47 percent along with averaging over 12 points per game to go with 5.4 assists.

When looking at the Longhorns, the thing that stands out is their size. They rank fourth nationally in rebounding margin at +10.4 and are 12th nationally in total rebounds. Of their 32 games, Texas has held or tied the rebounding advantage in 28 of those games. If Indiana is to be successful, rebounding will be a major key.

“I think they’re a really good team in transition, so just stopping the ball early and get into our defensive sets,” junior Texas guard Joyner Holmes said. “I also think switching our defenses up on them, don’t continue to play the same ones, and attack them on the offensive side of the floor.”

However the Hoosiers ended up in the tournament, they are happy to be back. Last time they reached the tournament, they were able to beat Georgia in the first round before falling to Notre Dame.

But whether or not Indiana wins, the excitement level of being back in the tournament is palpable. The flew into Eugene on Wednesday and are excited to get going Friday night at 7:00pm ET.

“The Hoosiers are excited to be here,” Moren said. “We set out our goals in early October and one of the goals was to be sitting right here in the NCAA tournament. We are excited.”

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