The above tagline may be best known as a meme from PBS’s Arthur, but it’s also a mantra that could’ve been adopted by about a dozen IU students before tonight’s game.
Due to the Winter Weather Event currently hitting Bloomington, IU Athletics announced that attendance at Assembly Hall would be limited to essential personnel only. Despite the warning being sent out over various social media channels, 10-20 students made it to the southside bleachers before tipoff, adorning masks and banana suits. How did they get there? Did they snowball down security? Could they have snuck in a cracked door? We’ll probably never know how they made it in, but I’m choosing to believe that they simply didn’t get the memo. They never learned that Assembly Hall was “closed” and when they arrived, nobody was there to stop them.
#5 Indiana beat Minnesota 80-70, here’s three things:
Tonight’s contest will be formally known as the “Gulbe Game”. The Senior was sensational! Gulbe set her career highs in points, field goals made, and 3 point field goals made. She finished with 28 points, shooting 11-15 from the field. The 6-3 Forward was a perfect 4-4 from three and made both of her free throws. She rounded out her stat line with five boards and an assist.
Her numbers were impressive, but Gulbe was tonight’s MVP because of the timeliness of her big plays. Indiana trailed for most of the game, and every time Minnesota started to run away with it, she would hit a shot or extend a possession with a contested rebound. She brought IU within one twice, tied the game twice, and put IU ahead twice. The Hoosiers have recently struggled to replace the production of Mackenzie Holmes, but if Gulbe continues to play lights out, they will be just fine.
*I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the additional stellar performance we saw from Gopher Guard Sara Scalia. Scalia scored 26 points and was an astonishing 7-12 from beyond the arc. Watching her go shot-for-shot with Gulbe was the most entertaining aspect of this matchup. Game recognizes game, Sara Scalia can ball.
Winning the box score
Games are not won on the stat sheet, but outperforming your opponent in most statistical categories certainly helps. Aside from some Ali Patberg and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary foul trouble in the 3rd, IU played a fairly clean game.
They shot well. IU was 28-55 from the field and 7-14 from downtown. These (roughly) 50% marks were above their season average in each category. Minnesota finished 26-58 (44.8%) on field goals, but shot an impressive 11-21 (52.8%) from three.
Indiana won the rebounding battle 34-27 and outscored Minnesota in the paint by 6 (26-20). IU’s 18 assists were well ahead of their season average of 14.6. Shooting 17-20 (85%) from the stripe was also an improvement on their 72.3% conference play clip.
Bench scoring is still a bit of a concern. A single digit sum from the non-starters probably isn’t going to get it done vs. the nation’s elite teams, but big plays from Grace Waggoner and Kaitlin Peterson tell us that this crew is still developing and will become deeper as the season progresses.
The last 5 minutes
Great teams separate themselves from the crowd by possessing the ability to flip a switch. They’re able to ascend to another level of play and can completely take over a game in an instant. Indiana turned the lights out on Minnesota with 4:42 left in the 4th.
A Sara Scalia 3-pointer had just put the Gophers ahead 70-66, but as she’d done all night long, Aleksa Gulbe responded. #10 hit her fourth triple of the night and pulled the Hoosiers within one. Next came a big Grace Waggoner defensive board and subsequent sneaky backdoor layup. IU was up 71-70, 3:46 left. Minnesota, who had been ahead for the majority of the game, were starting to feel the walls close in.
On the next possession, NCH dealt the first of multiple big blows. She stole the ball from Minnesota’s Gadiva Hubbard and hit a three 25 seconds later.
The Gophers were suddenly down 4 and needed a basket. Grace Waggoner had other plans, and blocked their next shot attempt. Two Grace Berger defensive boards and an Aleksa Gulbe layup later and IU were up 6 with 1:33 left.
At this point, the visitors were struggling for air. A rushed 3-point attempt followed by yet another Grace Berger defensive rebound was their last gasp. An Ali Patberg jumper served as the dagger. The Gophers were cooked. Indiana ended the game on a 14-0 run, and held Minnesota scoreless over the last 4:42. A couple Grace Berger free throws served as the capper to a downright dominant stretch from Teri Moren’s squad. Hoosiers win, 80-70.
Realizing one’s potential is a key moment in any Super Hero movie. Here’s to hoping that the Hoosiers did so tonight, and can look back at their five minutes of fury vs. Minnesota fondly from a pedestal of success come Spring.
IU improves to 15-3 overall and 7-1 in B1G competition this season with the victory. They’ll be back in action when they host Purdue this Sunday at 1.