The No. 16 Indiana women’s basketball team squandered an 11-0 start versus Ohio State on Jan. 28 and lost its second conference game of the season. The Hoosiers’ 17 turnovers were seven more than their season average, and they made just one 3-pointer in 14 attempts.
While the offensive struggles and failure to execute in the fourth quarter are well documented, there were a number of defensive breakdowns in key moments that allowed Ohio State to win at Assembly Hall. With this loss, Indiana drops to fourth in the Big Ten while the Buckeyes surge to second place behind Maryland.
Here are three plays that cost the Hoosiers a victory on Thursday night.
Indiana held a 32-25 lead midway through the second quarter, but there was a feeling that Ohio State was starting to figure it out offensively. Madison Greene struggled to find her shot for the majority of this game, scoring all seven of her points from the free throw line, but the Buckeyes looked to get her involved here.
It starts off with Greene running off a double screen from Tanya Beachem and Rebeka Mikulasikova. At this point, Ohio State is trying to free her up for either a jump shot or a drive to the basket.
Greene catches the ball just inside the free-throw line and is met by two defenders: Indiana’s Jaelynn Penn and Kiandra Brown. Green realizes she is not open for a shot, and the two Hoosiers have closed off any chance for her to drive to the basket.
But what Indiana forgot about was Dorka Juhasz standing wide open in the corner. Brown had to come over to help stop Greene’s drive, but she was not quick enough in her effort to recover to Juhasz, who scored 19 points and hit two 3-pointers on Thursday. Because of this, Greene finds Juhasz open in the corner for a 3 to keep Ohio State close in the second quarter.
At this point, Ohio State has taken control of the game and is picking Indiana apart offensively. Ohio State leads by four points with just over seven minutes left in the game and has Indiana on its heels. This play features Aaliyah Patty, who scored 13 points and kept Aleksa Gulbe in foul trouble for most of Thursday’s game.
This possession starts with a ball screen from Patty on Penn. Penn chooses to go under the screen, which allows Greene to stay comfortable and make a decision.
Because of Indiana’s lack of on-ball pressure, Greene is able to comfortably make a pass to Juhasz near the top of the key. At this point, the Hoosiers are confused, defensively. Penn stays with Greene at the top, but so does Gulbe. This leaves Patty an open lane to roll to the basket as Gulbe sprints to recover.
Greene makes the pass to Juhasz because she has a better angle to make a pass to the rolling Patty. Gulbe is left behind and Indiana’s only defender in the paint is Grace Berger, which is a mismatch for Patty down low. Patty gets an open look in the lane as all the Hoosiers can do is watch.
With two minutes left in the game and trailing by eight points, the Hoosiers absolutely cannot afford to give up a basket. Indiana was outscored 25-16 in the fourth quarter on Jan. 28, and this play was essentially the dagger.
Similar to the second play highlighted in this article, Ohio State starts off the possession with an effort to confuse Indiana with ball screen coverage. Greene runs to the corner and executes a dribble handoff with Braxtin Miller.
Again, Patberg decides to go under the screen on this play, which allows Miller to feel comfortable and maintain her dribble as she awaits the screen from Patty. Indiana has three defenders in the area, but MIller is controlling the play.
Patberg goes under the screen yet again, but hits a roadblock as she has to fight through Patty to get back to Miller. Mackenzie Holmes does a good job of hedging this screen initially, but doesn’t realize Patberg is caught in the jumble. Holmes also has responsibilities to recover to Patty who is rolling to the basket, which cuts her hedge off a few seconds too soon.
Because of this, Miller is left wide open near the top of the key. On this play, Patberg chose to go under two screens instead of fighting over the top to contain Miller, who was able to control this play because of Indiana’s ball screen defense. Miller led the Buckeyes with 25 points and made three of five attempts from beyond the arc. Miller drains the 3 to put Ohio State up by 11 points with two minutes left. Dagger.
Indiana's next game is a quick turnaround versus Michigan State on Sunday at Assembly Hall. The Spartans come in ranked seventh in the Big Ten, but hold a 9-3 record overall. Indiana will need to keep an eye on Nia Clouden, who is fifth in the Big Ten in points per game at 19.1.
In order for Indiana to emerge victorious, a focus on ball-screen coverage and execution down the stretch will be crucial.