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'She's just a special human being': Wise brings 'good juice' as Hoosiers win without leading scorer

Playing without its leading scorer, Grace Berger, certain weaknesses of the Indiana women’s basketball team were exposed Saturday in its 72-45 win over North Florida. Nine first-half turnovers prohibited the Hoosiers from opening up a larger lead, as they lost the second quarter 13-11.

But luckily for Indiana, senior Brenna Wise brought "the good juice," as head coach Teri Moren said. For Moren, this was no surprise — Wise brings it every day. Whether it is during a practice, game or in the locker room, Wise possesses a certain energy at all times.

“[Wise] just has an energy that is contagious and resonates in that locker room with her teammates,” Moren said. “She is really a special person, not just a player, she’s just a special human being.”

Indiana established its lead in the first quarter thanks to a 17-0 run, but North Florida did not go away easily. The Ospreys cut Indiana’s lead to six points with 5:23 left in the second quarter. Again, North Florida threatened the Hoosiers’ lead with 8:05 left in the third quarter, making it a six-point game.

But whenever IU was on the verge of losing its lead, Wise was there to hit the big shot. In the second quarter, Wise showed her toughness when she spun through the lane to stop the Ospreys’ 6-0 run. Wise silenced North Florida’s third quarter run with a layup, followed by a three-pointer two possessions later.

“It was big,” Moren said. “[Wise] took it upon herself to make some aggressive plays at the rim and I thought that was good. She was probably the bright spot of the night offensively for us.”

With under a minute remaining in the third quarter, a three-pointer from Wise gave Indiana a 15-point lead which they would only improve upon the rest of the night. Wise was always there to hit a big shot when her team needed it the most.

Wise finished the night with 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting and a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. She converted six of her seven free throws and also grabbed two rebounds. This efficient night epitomizes the kind of player Wise has been for Indiana in her career. For Moren, this level of play from Wise has become an expectation in her senior year.

“You have to have a veteran like that to take it and be responsible for trying to get us some points on the board and Brenna did that,” Moren said. “I don’t think she pressed too much. I thought she sort of allowed the game to come to her, but it was good to see, we needed every one of those points for sure.”

Wise’s energy was on display on the defensive end as well. Throughout her time playing for IU, Wise has always been willing to sacrifice her body to take a charge. Versus North Florida, Wise yelled and pumped her fists as she lay on Branch McCracken court after taking a charge multiple times.

“She has a love and a zest for life,” Moren said. “I don’t know that she has a bad day.”

The Hoosiers’ defense hasn’t had too many bad days this year either, which has been something Moren takes a lot of pride in. Indiana forced 19 turnovers Saturday, which was very important because the team that shot 45 percent from the field and missed nine free throws.

“On nights that you have like tonight, you have to be able to rely on something,” Moren said. “We are a program that likes to hang its hat on the defensive end.

But even on a night where the Indiana didn’t truly pull away until late in the third quarter and looked uncomfortable on offense, Wise was always there to hit the big shot.

Looking forward, the Hoosiers are back on the road on Dec. 11 for a matchup versus Butler in Indianapolis. The team will then have two nonconference matchups at home versus Youngstown State and UCLA before Big Ten play begins.

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