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Indiana dominates inside against smaller Western Michigan team

An excellent third quarter ultimately put the Hoosiers over the top of the Western Michigan Broncos, as No. 10 Indiana won 67-57 at Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon.

Mackenzie Holmes was once again in double-digit scoring, but her rebounding was excellent. Holmes grabbed a season-high 19 rebounds, as well as adding 17 points to the stat sheet. Going against a smaller team in Western Michigan opened up an opportunity for Indiana to dominate on the glass. And IU did just that, out-rebounding WMU 47-29 and grabbing 18 offensive rebounds.

The Broncos hung around with the Hoosiers at the start, as the game remained a one-possession game late in the first quarter. It seemed as though whenever Indiana got some momentum going offensively, Western Michigan would respond with a big shot to keep IU from pulling away. It seemed as though the Hoosiers’ game plan early was to score the ball inside, as their first four baskets came from layups. 

Indiana’s defense showed some flashes from a spectacular performance last Sunday against Ohio State, as IU forced WMU into some costly turnovers. On the very first play of the game, Nicole Cardaño-Hillary took the ball right to the basket off a steal to energize the Hoosiers. That would be one of her three steals on the night, as she has continued to be a pest for opposing guards.

Along with Cardaño-Hillary, Grace Berger and Ali Patberg chipped in for a couple of steals to give Indiana extra possessions. The perimeter defense for the Hoosiers has gotten much better since the beginning of the season, and it will help them in conference play where they will have to defend some elite guards. Nonetheless, Western Michigan hit some big shots to keep the game within striking distance, as the Hoosiers led 19-14 at the end of the first quarter. 

Turnovers and missed shots highlighted the start of the second quarter, as it was truly a struggle to put the ball in the basket. There were six combined turnovers between the two teams just in the first five minutes, but it seemed like either team could capitalize on those opportunities. Even though Indiana was still able to score inside, Western Michigan made some good adjustments to turn the Hoosiers over and cut into the lead. IU ended up with a six-point lead going into the locker room.

Berger’s shot seemed to have sparked some offense for the Hoosiers to open up the third quarter, as they opened up on a 14-0 run that put the Broncos in a tough hole to come back from. Berger along with Holmes combined for 11 of those 14 points during the run, the other three being free throws from Patberg and Kiandra Browne. Browne’s rebounding in this game was huge for Indiana, as her ability to get second-chance points helped extend the Hoosier lead to double digits. 

This did not stop Western Michigan to try and come back. The Broncos were able to score in a variety of ways, as they found their shot from the outside as well as finding a way to score inside. However, the Hoosiers did a great job of drawing fouls and getting free points at the line. Indiana always seemed to find a way to stop WMU when the Broncos seemed to find some momentum, hence why IU was able to keep a 19-point lead heading into the final quarter of play. 

The strong offensive third quarter didn’t translate very well into the fourth quarter, as the Hoosiers only managed to score 12 points in the entire 10-minute period. While the free throw shooting was better earlier on in the game, it really hurt Indiana in the final moments of the game. The team ended up shooting 62 percent from the line, which allowed the Broncos to cut the lead to 10. However, there was too little time for a Bronco comeback and the Hoosiers took the win 67-57.  

This win puts IU at 9-2 in the season, as IU inches closer to the end of nonconference play. The Hoosiers will take on the 1-5 Wright State Raiders. Wright State is coming off its first win of the season last Wednesday against Lake Erie, so Indiana will be taking on a team with some renewed confidence come Tuesday.

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