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No. 10 Indiana cruises past Penn State, 70-40, in Big Ten opener

No. 10 Indiana looked to bounce back after its loss to the No. 2-ranked North Carolina Wolfpack last Thursday, starting Big Ten play Monday night against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The game started off close in the first quarter but then went into the hands of the Hoosiers as they controlled the rest of the game, beating Penn State 70-40. 

The first quarter began in favor of Penn State, starting off on a 6-0 scoring run in the first two minutes causing IU head coach Teri Moren to call a quick timeout. Penn State came with a clear game plan: Causing traps down in the post. This worked in the beginning of the game, limiting center Mackenizie Holmes and forward Aleksa Gulbe to a combined seven points early on as well as causing seven turnovers for the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers shot well but couldn't keep a smooth momentum as they struggled keeping the ball in their own hands, turning over the ball seven times. 

It was only a matter of time before the Hoosiers started to click, though, and eventually got hot from the field, finishing the first quarter with an 18-13 lead. 

This time around the Nittany Lions were the ones with turnover issues. Indiana forced Penn State to cough up five turnovers in the second quarter. Not only that, Penn State had trouble getting quality shots and getting shots to go in the basket as they shot 26 percent from the field in the second quarter. The Hoosiers limited Penn State under 10 points, which led to the Nittany Lions scoring just eight points in the final 10 minutes heading into halftime. 

With Indiana’s defense hunkering down, the Hoosiers doubled their first-quarter points as they scored 19 in the second quarter before heading into halftime. They also cut down on the second-quarter turnovers as they only had added two more to close out the half.

Indiana sixth-year guard Ali Patberg took charge to start the third quarter as she quickly scored five points within the first three minutes as well as staying strong on the defensive side of things. Patberg’s leadership out of the intermission caused Penn State to miss a pair of 3-pointers , limiting the Nittany Lions to just five points in the opening five minutes of the second half. That is as much as Penn State could muster offensively, enduring a scoring drought for the majority of the quarter. 

Indiana capitalized on Penn State going cold and stormed out to a 21-0 scoring run, eventually increasing its lead to as large as 34 points. The quarter closed out in dominant fashion by the Hoosiers as they finished with a 30-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play. 

Both teams only scored 10 points each in the fourth quarter to close out the game. Indiana finished shooting 51 percent from the field and 43 percent from behind the arc. 

Despite the 30-point win, Moren talked about the importance of cleaning up the turnovers and how it has continued to plague the team this season.

“The only frustrating piece of the game is our turnovers,” Moren said. “We wanna be under 11 once again. We were careless tonight, especially in the first half. We've got to fix that, we have to figure out how to fix that.” 

Moren also said that Indiana’s losses to North Carolina State and Stanford earlier in the season are an indication of needing to continue to build the program and not getting complacent. 

“I think that playing the Stanfords and realizing that at the end of the day they won the national championship and we're right there does something good for your team,” Moren said. “NC State, we can look at that so many different ways. If we hit a couple more 3s the outcome is completely different.”

In those contenders, Moren sees similarities, but she also said she believes the Hoosiers need to stay focused on what got them to this point.

“We don’t have to be extraordinary," Moren said. "We have to be ourselves.”

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