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Hoosiers roll past Penn State, 85-64

Grace Berger is a triple-double machine

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Iowa vs Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana didn’t go home after Monday’s loss at Maryland.

Instead of boarding their charter back to the Monroe County Airport, as they normally would, the Hoosiers hopped on a bus and drove to State College, Pa., where they waited out the short-ish turnaround leading into Thursday’s game against Penn State. The early-week loss to the Terps was a stinger, a reminder of where IU sits in the Big Ten pecking order, and so the Hoosiers were glad to have an opportunity to bounce back in short order.

Against the Nittany Lions, they made the most of their extended stay out East, powering past Penn State in an 85-64 victory at the Bryce Jordan Center.

“It was a good win for us, especially coming off a disappointing Monday night against Maryland,” IU coach Teri Moren said. “... We have some bounce-back ability in us.”

The trio of Mackenzie Holmes, Ali Patberg and Grace Berger provided that bounce, each in their own ways. Holmes poured in a career-high 27 points, marking her fifth straight game in double figures. Patberg scored a season-high 24 points, rebounding from a poor performance against the Terps. And Berger did it again — recording her second triple-double of the season with 15 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Remarkably, Indiana’s women’s program never recorded a triple-double prior to Berger going off for 17, 10 and 10 against Eastern Kentucky in November. And while Thursday’s encore was something of a quiet, more understated performance, it was also more of what IU has come to expect from the junior.

“Pretty cool,” Moren said.

Holmes, Patberg and Berger accounted for nearly 80% of IU’s scoring output on the night, as the Hoosiers shot 51% from the field and tallied 50 points in the paint.

“I liked the way Ali Patberg came out in the second half, in particular,” Moren said. “I thought she was way more aggressive. Of course, Mack was tremendous around the rim, and G gets her second-career triple-double. For me, the best part of the stat sheet is that we had 24 assists and two turnovers. That is sharing the sugar and taking care of it.”

Those stats — all of them, really — were notable on a night when Indiana played without Jaelynn Penn and had to counter Penn State’s pressure. The two turnovers were a season-low and the fewest in a game since the Hoosiers committed five against Penn State on Feb. 27, 2016.

Indiana didn’t create its separation until the third quarter, when Holmes, Patberg and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary helped build a 10-point lead midway through the period. In the fourth, Berger went 4-for-5 from the field and posted 11 of Indiana’s 25 points in the runaway quarter.

Over the final 10 minutes, Indiana shot 64.7% from the field.

The Hoosiers return to action on Sunday when they host Wisconsin at 4 p.m. Eastern.