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Hoosiers rout Purdue at Mackey, 66-45

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Defense + Grace Berger + Mackenzie Holmes = big win in West Lafayette

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Iowa vs Indiana
IU’s Grace Berger looks to pass during a game on March 8, 2019.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

A three-point play by Purdue’s Kayana Traylor 67 seconds into Thursday’s second quarter at Mackey Arena deadlocked the game, the fourth tie of what initially looked like a competitive contest.

But that was the end of such notions.

Indiana held Purdue scoreless over the final 8:53 of the first half, running away with a 66-45 victory and extending its winning streak over its in-state rival to four games.

In all, the Boilermakers went more than 10 minutes between points across the middle portion of the game, and by the time they finally found the bottom of the net once again, it was too late. The Hoosiers scored 20 consecutive points during Purdue’s drought, putting the game beyond reach by the start of the second half.

Thursday marked the second time this season (Samford) that IU held an opponent to three points during a period.

“I thought that second quarter, defensively, we were really, really good and took them out of some things,” IU coach Teri Moren said. “I want to give credit to coach Rhet Wierzba. He’s always had the Purdue scout and he’s excellent, in terms of understanding their sets. They run a lot of them. The nice thing about having an empty gym is Coach Rhet’s voice carries. When they were in front of us, he was literally coaching them through every set. That’s one thing, but you still need to have the effort. The kids have to do the job, and I thought they did a great job in the second, third quarter.”

The Hoosiers finished with three in double figures. Grace Berger led the way with 22 points, while Mackenzie Holmes scored 20 and Aleksa Gulbe added 10. The trio accounted for 78% of IU’s scoring.

For Berger, it was her sixth straight game in double digits. She also dished a team-high seven assists. For Holmes, it was her seventh consecutive double-figure effort. She and Gulbe tied for the team high with six rebounds. With Holmes and Gulbe going to work underneath, Indiana outscored Purdue 40-16 in the paint.

The Hoosiers also committed only nine turnovers to Purdue’s 16.

It was the defense that was most impressive on this evening, with the Hoosiers holding their fifth Big Ten opponent to 56 points or fewer. And for an Indiana team that can score in plenty of ways, that’s a recipe for success.

Thursday was also Indiana’s sixth win in the league. So far, IU’s average margin of victory in the Big Ten is 24.5 points. That kind of dominance is fun to watch.

Especially against your rival.