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Team effort after halftime leads Hoosiers to win over Michigan State

Thanks to a big second half of scoring, the Hoosiers were able to defeat the Michigan State Spartans 79-67. Indiana outscored MSU by 20 after halftime, and after shooting very poorly in the first half, the Hoosiers were able to finish at a 55% clip and went 7-for-10 from 3.

Where Indiana has always had success this season was post play, and that was no different Sunday. Mackenzie Holmes and Aleksa Gulbe combined for 31 of Indiana's 79 points, but the other Hoosiers showed up as well. Jaelynn Penn had 13 points and Ali Patberg finished with 15. As well as those two played, Nicole Cardano-Hilary continued to be the spark IU needed off the bench with seven very important points.

There’s some pretty big significance behind this win Sunday, as Indiana women’s basketball grabs its 800th win in the program's history. For head coach Teri Moren, the program wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without the effort from the players.

“I think it goes out to our players,” Moren said. “What our jobs are [as coaches] is to put them in positions and help them be successful day in and day out. So it always comes back to the players and the program, and we had a lot of really good ones.”

Indiana struggled mightily from the field early on, as they just had one point in the first three minutes. Part of that was due to the Spartan defense turning the Hoosiers over and limiting IU’s production inside. What also didn’t help was Michigan State’s ability to hit shots. Whether they were contested or open, the Spartans were able to make baskets in a variety of ways. Patberg said she and her teammates knew they had to stick with it despite the hot start from MSU.

“They’re a great team,” Patberg said. “They were hitting a lot of shots. [And] we weren’t getting stops, which is something coach tells us all the time. So we just weren’t able to get good looks for [Mackenzie] and [Aleksa].”

But a 7-0 run midway through the first quarter would help Indiana climb back into this game. A big reason for that was Patberg and Holmes hitting shots along with the defense getting stops.

However, Holmes picked up two fouls in the first quarter and had to sit on the bench for a bit. Fortunately for the Hoosiers, Kiandra Brown gave the team some great defensive minutes and helped IU cut the deficit to two points at the end of the quarter. For Brown's teammates, it was good to see the freshman become more of a vocal leader in Sunday's game.

“It’s funny because I talked to her before the game,” Patberg said. “I thought on Thursday when we played Ohio State we had great energy, and then we couldn’t hit shots so our energy was really low. I told her today, ‘If you’re on the floor or off the floor, we need you to bring energy constantly.’”

The first half struggles of Grace Berger hurt the Hoosiers, as she went 0-for-5 from the field and tallied up only two assists, as Indiana went down eight at the half.

Points came much easier for both teams in the second half, as well as some great shooting from the Spartans. Indiana’s defense looked a lot better than it did in the opening minutes, but MSU’s Nia Clouden and other guards made some tough shots to keep Indiana trailing. These tough shots frustrated the Indiana defense and the Spartans began to make more shots.

The strategy was obvious early on for IU — get the ball inside to Gulbe and Holmes. The two began to get some big buckets inside to help cut their deficit. It also helped that Berger came out on a mission in the second half. Her slashing ability helped get some buckets and get easy some buckets.

Indiana’s 3-point shooting also helped the team eventually take the lead, as the team was 7-for-10 from 3 by the end of the third. But turnovers continued to be a serious problem for IU, as the team had 13 at the end of the third quarter. Besides that, Indiana stormed back with great transition offense sequences to go up two points going into the fourth quarter.

The end of the third quarter was promising for the Hoosiers, and the fourth quarter was even better. All the starters for the Hoosiers were big in many different ways. Penn was great on defense, Berger’s playmaking ability was back on, and Holmes was a great scorer inside. With a great second half of shooting and defense as well, the Hoosiers were able to pick up a nice bounce back win over the Spartans.

Indiana moves on to a game against Rutgers, which was rescheduled for Feb. 4 after being postponed a couple of weeks ago. The Scarlet Knights have not played in a month, and lie at 12th in the Big Ten only ahead of Illinois and Wisconsin. 

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