The first few minutes of Indiana women’s basketball’s 91-68 win over Rutgers didn’t begin as a blowout.
The first quarter was competitive with each side trading baskets without a clear advantage. The Hoosiers were making a few mistakes with errant passes and ill-advised shots and the Scarlet Knights were eager to capitalize.
It was bad enough to the point that Rutgers ended the first ten minutes with a 22-17 lead. This wasn’t the kind of game Indiana could afford to become competitive, let alone a loss. Rutgers is 9-13 on the season and 3-7 in the conference. Indiana already had its bad loss, on the road against Michigan State.
They were getting beat on the glass and out-toughed, head coach Teri Moren said following the games. Rutgers had a 10-2 offensive rebounding advantage and was stealing possessions right in front of Indiana’s bench.
“I thought we were soft,” Moren said. “The challenge was that we needed to be grittier, we needed to be tougher, we needed to be more resilient, consistent.”
Grace Berger added that she felt Rutgers was getting easy scoring opportunities throughout the first quarter thanks to slip-ups from Indiana on defense.
Fans didn’t have to wait for a comeback, the Hoosiers outscored the Scarlet Knights 33-20 in the second quarter thanks to perimeter shooting from Yarden Garzon, Sydney Parrish and even Berger, who hit all three of her attempts from the arc to match a career high.
Parrish said that Indiana’s willingness to shoot comes from confidence provided by both teammates and the coaching staff.
“Every time the shot goes up, sometimes I won’t even go and rebound the offensive board because I’m so confident that Yarden or Grace or Sara just knock down shots,” Parrish said.
Not only did Indiana come back in the second, but the Hoosiers allowed less and less points in each quarter as the game went on, down to a low of 7 in the fourth despite a dominant lead.
Moren tries to save her timeouts throughout games, she said, knowing the impact of using them toward the end of tight games for her and the rest of Indiana’s coaching staff to encourage the group and make adjustments.
Additionally, Rutgers was hampered by having just eight players on the roster, all of whom saw at least 11 minutes today. For comparison’s sake, Indiana has a roster of 12.
At the end of the day, Moren said she’s glad that Indiana has games like this so they’ll be more experienced as the season goes on. The Hoosiers have had to rely on their offense and defense throughout the season, with today’s win being a bit of both.
Next up is Minnesota, which Moren stressed is front of mind for Indiana as the team leaves Assembly Hall today.
“In order to win a championship you have to be battle-tested,” Moren said. “My job is to continue to challenge them everyday and don’t worry, that’s gonna happen.”