WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Indiana Hoosiers will keep the Barn Burner trophy for the six consecutive game following an exciting overtime 73-68 win over the Boilermakers.
“What a fantastic battle today between these two teams,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said in a post game press conference. “I thought the crowd was unbelievable.”
The Hoosiers improve to a 6-0 Big Ten record and a 12-0 road game record even without starters Mackenzie Holmes, who’s out with a knee injury and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, who’s on health and safety protocol.
“All of us for this game had to step up, and as a team, we took up that challenge,” senior forward Aleksa Gulbe said.
It was clear Indiana’s offense was running through senior guard Grace Berger, who led the team with 24 points and Gulbe who put up 21 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
“I think me, Aleksa and Ali — I think we expect to have the ball in our hands a lot, especially in close games like this with those two out, just because the other kids are younger and just don’t have as much experience,” Berger said.
In place of Holmes and Cardaño-Hillary were sophomores Kiandra Browne and Chloe Moore-McNeil who played a combined 71 minutes.
For her second start, Browne had eight points and four rebounds while Moore-McNeil was one of four Hoosiers scoring in double digits with 10 points.
Moren said she felt Browne has gotten more comfortable in the role she put her in and that no one wants to utilize the bench more than the Hoosiers because it will make the team better in big games like this.
“They don’t get frustrated,” Moren said. “They don’t feel sorry for themselves. Obviously Mack is a big loss, and we didn’t realize until Friday that Nikki wasn’t going to be available, so once again, we’re scrambling trying to make adjustments.”
The Hoosiers started off slow offensively but ended up shooting 42.9 percent from the field compared to Purdue’s 38.2 percent.
Purdue junior guard Abbey Ellis started off the first quarter with a jumper immediately followed by Browne’s layup.
The Boilermakers held their lead with a 7-0 run, but missing four field goals in a row gave Indiana the opportunity to catch up.
Gulbe swished a three pointer following a two-minute Hoosier scoring drought to bring her group within one.
Moore-McNeil’s jumper put the Hoosiers on top for a short time before Purdue ended the first quarter 15-12.
Indiana got off to a rocky start stuck in more than a two-minute scoring drought until Gulbe drained a three-pointer.
Berger scored a jumper for the Indiana 23-21 lead as part of a 6-0 run. But the Boilermakers got up once again and finished the half 32-27 after a back-and-forth battle.
To start the second half, Moore-McNeil cashed in on a three-pointer to tie it up as part of a 9-0 run.
“What she did defensively I think to me is more impressive than her being able to knock down a long ball,” Moren said.
The back-and-forth trend continued as Purdue senior guard Cassidy Hardin hit a three-pointer to take back the lead.
Indiana continued to miss shots in the fourth quarter giving Purdue an eight-point lead with just above three minutes to go forcing the Hoosiers to take a timeout.
“The veteran leaders — me, Aleksa, Ali Patberg — calmed everyone down in the huddle. They knew a minute was a long time. They just have a lead, but we had all the pieces to make shots, get rebounds, and score the ball and come back.”
In a thrilling end to the quarter, Berger hit a jumper with seven seconds to go tying up the score.
Berger fouled Ellis who headed to the line and missed her first free throw but sunk the second one taking the 60-60 game to overtime.
Overtime was all Hoosiers as the veteran experience started to kick in for Indiana. Purdue student fans filed out of Mackey before the scoreboard could confirm a win for their rivals.
“They (Indiana) were relentless,” Moren said. “As long as there’s time on the clock, we’re always going to be in the game because I have a group of people in that locker room that just won’t quit.”
Up next, Indiana will face the Michigan State Spartans on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at home. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on BTN+.
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- INDIANA IS A ‘DEFENSIVE-MINDED’ TEAM: The Hoosiers are at the top of the Big Ten leaderboard in scoring defense and limit their opponents to an average 57.1 points per game. Their offense is certainly elite, but both Coach Teri Moren and her team have said ‘we hang our hats on our defense.’ CLICK HERE.
- HOOSIERS DEFEAT NEBRASKA AT HOME: The 72-65 win and 5-0 conference best start was done so even without the Hoosiers’ leading scorer Mackenzie Holmes who sat out with a knee injury. Grace Berger led the team to victory with 22 points. Indiana coach Teri Moren said her team was “built for this moment.” CLICK HERE.