Bloomington, Indiana — In a race for Big Ten standings and a slot in the tournament, the Hoosiers took down the Wildcats in their second conference battle in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, 66-38.
The Hoosiers’ defense capitalized on Northwestern’s missed shots, and there were a lot of them, getting their seventh Big Ten win. However, the offense was not pretty from either side, both teams ending the game with shooting percentages in the 30’s.
“We are playing for something,” Indiana’s Tyra Buss stated on the momentum her team played with after a historical win at Rutgers earlier this week.
Northwestern came into the matchup just a half-game ahead of Indiana in the conference standings, and the Hoosiers knew they needed a win to put them in a tie for fourth place.
Head Coach Teri Moren said she talks to the team differently this year. She said last year they just focused on the next game, but this year she talks about what’s at stake.
“They have to have the urgency to know we are playing for something and every game here going down the stretch matters,” said Moren.
Indiana’s defense stayed stout throughout the first two quarters, shutting down Northwestern’s deadliest weapon -- Nia Coffey, and holding her to only four points. They consistently threw bodies at her, which resulted in foul trouble for Coffey with two personal before the end of the first half.
“I just think defensively we came out really understanding what we were trying to take away from Northwestern,” she said in remarks to the game plan on Coffey.
Hoosiers’ Jenn Anderson added, “We were switching, and even guards were guarding her, and she was still [having a] tough time, which made every shot tough and is what we needed from her.”
The first 20 minutes ended with Indiana’s captain, Buss, dropping in a reverse layup to give her half of their first half points, 13 of 26. That total of 26 was a season low for the Hoosiers as they headed into the locker room.
The 26 points were alarming since Indiana has the sixth highest scoring offense in the Big 10 since conference play started. As the Hoosiers headed to their locker room, they were only shooting 30% from the field, however they were ahead in the game, 26-17.
“Coach came in and reminded us that we missed 10 first half bunnies, open layups, that we should normally always make. And she [said in the] second half those were going to fall and we had to keep attacking and couldn’t let that get to us,” Buss said on a refreshed Indiana team as the third started.
And without hesitation, the Hoosiers opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run with some shots from the outside. Amanda Cahill came alive, after coming into the third period with no points on the board, and sunk a jumper, giving the Hoosiers their largest lead of 13.
Northwestern’s, Abi Schneid, got things going for her team, but the Wildcats were never able to find any sort of offensive run or consistency. Indiana continued to work from beyond the arc, sinking 3-of-4 from in the third stanza. By the end of the game, they would go on to shoot 35% from three, which is an improvement from the last several games.
The Hoosiers also dominated on the glass as 18 of the team’s total rebounds came from offensive boards, whereas Northwestern only had nine offensive boards and 32 total rebounds. Indiana’s defense gave little room for the Wildcats to take very many open looks, let alone any second chance opportunities.
“We talked really, really well, we had a lot of energy, and we really took pride in our defense today,” Buss stated after the game on Indiana’s communication and execution of the game plan.
Northwestern tired, however, they could not get close to Indiana as they pulled further and further away in the last 20 minutes of the game. Despite not hitting her standard double-digit scoring, Coffey still led her team with nine points, nine rebounds. Buss (19), Alexis Gassion (14), Amanda Cahill (11) all reached double-digit scoring, while Anderson also pulled down 11 rebounds.
The Hoosiers shut down the Wildcat in arguably their biggest game to date. They made a statement and will head into Michigan (Feb. 16) on a two-game winning streak in search of a tournament bid.
Northwestern will look to bounce back at Minnesota on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m ET.