By Justin Powell | @Justin_Powell24
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Hoosiers advanced to the semifinal round of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament with a 78-60 win over the fifth-seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights, a record 24th victory that last reached the semifinals in 2006.
The Hoosiers (24-7) will make their sixth semifinal appearance in the conference tournament, and head coach Teri Moren says this only the beginning for her Hoosiers.
“It’s great,” Moren said. “Right now, that’s something that we will reflect, I think, after the season when we do our end-of-the-year banquet and talk about all those great moments that we had. As for now, I hope this season is long from being over, just because I have such a great group.”
The victory total surpassed the 23-14 record in 2017-18 and the 23-11 season in 2016-17.
The Hoosiers first-team All-Big Ten guard Ali Patberg scored 20 of her team-high 28 points in the win over the Scarlet Knights. Patberg’s 7-for-13 shooting, with 12 of 13 free throws and nine rebounds, led the Hoosiers in each category.
Patberg wanted to come out aggressive, and she did just that. “I just think coaches and my teammates have been telling me to be aggressive,” Patberg said. “I’m just going to do whatever it takes to win, and as I said, they’ve been telling me to be aggressive, and I want to win, so that’s what I do.”
Patberg took over in the first quarter, scoring nine straight points for the Hoosiers, including an and-1 floater that would extend the Hoosiers’ lead to 11-8 with 4:19 left in the first quarter. The Scarlet Knights would respond to the run with a 9-3 surge of their own over the last 2:16 of the first quarter. The Hoosiers would lead 20-17 heading into the second quarter.
Indiana’s stout defense created havoc for the Scarlet Knights, forcing Rutgers (22-9) to shoot 33.3% from the field.
Indiana junior guard Jaelynn Penn went down with an ankle sprain with 5:34 left in the third quarter and is questionable for tomorrow’s game, according to Moren.
Indiana sophomore forward Aleksa Gulbe helped the short-handed Hoosiers. Gulbe scored 13 of her 15 points and all seven rebounds in the second half, including an and-1 hook shot extending the Hoosier lead to 71-58 with 2:01 left in the game.
The Hoosier defense held Rutgers to 30.2% for the game. Moren credits her team’s fierce effort and grit.
“The reason why we’ve had the success that we’ve had so far has been a lot to do with the fact that, yeah, we’re balanced,” Moren said. “We guard hard, but we’re tough. You know, this group, I can promise you, will not go away quietly, and that’s one of the intangible things that I love about them is that they’re connected, but they’re tough women.”