Bloomington, IN -- They say basketball is a game of runs. This proved to be true tonight as Indiana (5-2) welcomed Georgia Tech (5-3) for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Despite an ugly first half, Tyra Buss's 22 points helped surge the Hoosiers to a 69-60 victory.
"This is about representing the Big Ten," said Indiana head coach Teri Moren. "This is a great win for our team, a great win for the Big Ten against a really good Georgia Tech team."
Georgia Tech started out in an extended two-three zone that took the Hoosiers half of the first quarter to adjust to. The Yellow Jackets only have one starter that is not above six feet tall, so Tech won the battle on the boards 26-19 in the first half. IU's Karlee McBride provided a major spark off the bench, coming in and scoring seven quick points to 13-10 in the first quarter. Hoosiers led 15-13 at the end of the first.
"You hope that when you go to your bench, there's no drop-off," said Moren. "Karlee gave us a nice little shot in the arm that gave us momentum."
Indiana went zone in the second quarter, which helped contain the Yellow Jackets' size and athleticism. While it was sloppy at times (IU had seven turnovers in the first half, Georgia Tech had six), and featured four lead changes, IU's Jenn Anderson was able to battle down low, scoring six points in the quarter that helped the Hoosiers take a 29-28 lead at the half.
"Jenn showed up tonight," said Moren. "There's something about the experience factor, and Jenn gives us that experience."
"You have to take it one play at a time," said Jenn Anderson.
Aaliyah Whiteside led the Yellow Jackets with nine points on 4-9 shooting, while Karlee McBride led IU with seven points and three rebounds.
Both teams exchanged buckets throughout the third quarter. Whiteside would hit a three, and then Alexis Gassion would hit a three. When the Hoosiers could get into transition, they were able to get some momentum going along with some confidence. After the media timeout, Whiteside came out on fire, scoring 11 points in the third that propelled Tech to a 46-45 lead with 10 seconds to go in the quarter. IU's Tyra Buss came down and made a layup to give Indiana a 47-46 lead at the end of the third quarter.
MaChelle Joseph's squad started out the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, taking a 52-47 lead with eight minutes remaining. Any time IU went on a run, Georgia Tech was able to stop the bleeding and keep a one to two point lead. But then Tyra Buss happened. The guard went off in the fourth, scoring 12 points that gave IU a 66-60 lead with two minutes left in the game.
"We made big plays when it counted, and we really communicated when it counted and had each others back," said Tyra Buss.
After that, it was smooth sailing for the Hoosiers, who escaped with a 69-60 win. IU improves to 5-2 on the year, while Georgia Tech falls to 5-3.
"It's a great win for our team," said Moren. "I like how we were just gutsy down the stretch. We willed our way to that victory."