Teri Moren knew it was coming.
That’s why she and her staff ran her Hoosiers through so many zone offense sets during practice this week, preparing them for the defensive wrinkle Ohio State would surely throw their way in Columbus.
The Buckeyes’ take on the 2-3 gave IU fits in Bloomington last month, and it initially provided similar frustrations for the Hoosiers during the second half of Saturday’s showdown at the Schottenstein Center. But instead of wilting, No. 11 Indiana attacked and found a way to dictate the course of play over the final 10 minutes of an impressive 87-75 victory over No. 15 Ohio State.
“I’m proud of our entire group,” Moren said.
Five Hoosiers scored in double figures, including a team-high 20 points from Grace Berger. Ali Patberg added 19 points, Mackenzie Holmes posted 17 and Aleksa Gulbe totaled 10 for IU. Nicole Cardaño-Hillary also got in on the fun, recording a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The win snapped a 15-game losing skid against Ohio State, a trend that dated back to 2010. Saturday also marked IU’s first win in Columbus since 2002. Not only did the victory change the tide in the head-to-head series, it gave IU its school-record 14th Big Ten win of the season.
And make no mistake: Indiana had to work to get it.
When Ohio State switched its defensive alignment in the third quarter, IU went cold. The Hoosiers were outscored 20-12 during the period, while shooting just 28% from the field. By the 9:33 mark of the fourth quarter, IU was staring at a nine-point deficit. But Patberg and Holmes steadied things as the final frame unfolded, feeding Holmes with quick, decisive passes, attacking soft spots and opening looks for others elsewhere on the floor. With that approach, IU seized control late in regulation, going on a 14-0 run to build the winning margin.
“We went into the entire game knowing we had to be the aggressor, whether they were in man or zone,” Moren said. “I think we did get a little bit stifled, even though we were prepared for it. … In the past, it’s been sort of our Achilles heel. We’ve missed some shots and taken some bad shots, but what you saw us do tonight is we tried to get Mack involved. We didn’t just fall in love with the outside shot.”
Cardaño-Hillary impacted IU’s comeback efforts all over the floor. In the final quarter alone, she drilled a couple clutch 3-pointers, grabbed five boards, dished two assists and played solid defense on the other end. Cardaño-Hillary’s 3-pointer with three minutes remaining added gas to IU’s run and gave the Hoosiers a two-possession lead.
Indiana shot a season-high 40 free throws, hitting 31 one of them as they made a determined effort to attack and create — even on a day when Ohio State tried to take that ability away.
“It’s a terrific win for our program and one we had to fight really hard for,” Moren said. “We knew they were not going to go away. They made a run at us. Give our kids credit for being gritty and grinding it out.”