The Big Ten was always gonna be a deep league this year.
We knew it, Indiana’s Teri Moren knew it and virtually anyone who pays real attention to the league knew it. If Indiana’s close wins against Penn State, Illinois and this Nebraska team along with the road loss to Michigan State didn’t tell you that, we’re here to make it clear.
Don’t believe us? Well, just listen to Moren:
“I think the Big Ten conference, by itself, will be the most difficult conference in the country and you can quote me on that,” Moren said following Indiana’s 74-62 overtime win over Nebraska. “The game that you watched today? Gonna be games that you see every week. It’s a great league with great players, with great coaches.”
Moren went on to note that the win over Nebraska was broadcast on ESPN, saying that fact isn’t just good for the Big Ten but for women’s basketball as a whole.
As of right now, the Big Ten has five teams in the top-20 of the AP Poll with Nebraska receiving votes. Nebraska can boast wins over Maryland and Kansas, both of which are currently in the top-20.
Nebraska promptly hit a maize and blue brick wall in Ann Arbor, falling to Michigan 74-62. The Wolverines swarmed the Cornhuskers on the arc, refusing to let up good looks and keeping Jaz Shelley from getting open.
In the first few minutes of Sunday’s game, it looked like Indiana didn’t get that message. Nebraska opened up scoring by generating those open looks for Shelley and finding star sophomore Alexis Markowski down low when that failed. Shelley scored five points in the first four minutes... then didn’t score for the rest of the matchup.
Indiana’s defense wasn’t ideal, letting up a few open looks here and there. The Huskers ended the game hitting a 9-22 clip from the arc and getting 19 points out of its bench.
On the other end, the Hoosiers looked lost throughout the game. Indiana went cold early from beyond the arc, finishing having made just four of its 16 attempts from three. It should be noted that those four makes came at key points in the matchup, particularly down the stretch.
Scalia, the Hoosiers’ vaunted shooter from the transfer portal, ended the game without taking a single shot from the perimeter. She instead made her mark on defense, forcing key turnovers in the fourth quarter to keep the Hoosiers in striking distance.
When the threes weren’t falling, Indiana opted to crash into the paint and go for some contested layups. This worked when it was Mackenzie Holmes. The rest of the lineup is mostly a different story.
The Hoosiers just couldn’t finish at the rim throughout the game, going 23-59 from the field, just 39%. Many of Indiana’s points came from free throws, with every member of Nebraska’s lineup from the starters to the bench recording at least one foul.
It was a war of attrition, but Indiana is built for this sort of thing.
“We take a lot of pride in being the better conditioned team when the game gets going down the stretch in the fourth quarter and even in overtime situations,”
Indiana was simply ready for overtime and played like it, scoring 12 points and limiting the Huskers to zero. Nebraska just couldn’t keep up with Indiana in the closing minutes of regulation and certainly not in overtime.
That’s the mark of this Indiana team. They can have an awful night shooting from the field and still have the will and grit to tough out a win when the lights are brightest.
They’ll need that to survive in the big ten and, again, Moren knows that.