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Culture Shock

Indiana Women’s Basketball Survives Scare from Princeton, Advances to Second Straight Sweet 16

Amazing Grace, how sweet (16) the sound.

 

Senior guard Grace Berger had a game-high 15 points, but no bucket was bigger than her go-ahead layup with 29 seconds to go. That was enough to seal the deal for the 3-seeded Indiana Hoosiers as they fended off the 11-seeded Princeton Tigers 56-55 in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

 

“They’re such a special group. I’ve been blessed to have them in back-to-back seasons,” head coach Teri Moren said. 

 

The Hoosiers last year made it to the Elite Eight, and are now over halfway there following the win Monday night.

 

And this year for the first time in program history, they won tournament games in front of a raucous crowd at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers sent their fans home happy one last time this season as they eliminated the upset-minded Tigers, a team that was thoroughly overlooked throughout the tournament.

 

​​“Tonight was our crowd willing us to this win,” Moren said, who later went on to thank Athletic Director Scott Dolson and his entire staff for putting as many people as they did in the seats. 

 

Indiana Athletics made all tickets for students free, helping lead to a season-high 9,627 attendance mark. At the end of the game, Mackenzie Holmes ran up into the student section, high-fiving as many fans as she could.

 

“I wanted to make sure they knew they were a part of this win as well,” Holmes said afterwards.

 

Berger, Holmes, and Moren all mentioned that the home crowd propelled them to this win, and without them, the outcome would have been different.

 

Many expected a low-scoring game with two of the better defensive teams in the nation squaring off, and that’s exactly how it turned out. After Indiana led 39-29 at halftime, the Tigers roared back, using a 13-2 run in the third quarter to cut the lead to 3 after the third quarter. Indiana scored more points in the first quarter than they did in the entire second half, but it was enough to squeak by.

 

A huge defensive stand with less than 30 seconds to go put the Hoosiers in the driver’s seat as Ali Patberg got a steal to preserve Indiana’s 2-point lead. Aleksa Gulbe made two free throws with under two seconds left to extend the lead to 4. An Abby Meyers 3 at the buzzer was the reason the game was decided by a single point.

 

Princeton came into the game on an 18-game winning streak, having last lost on December 22, 2021, winning both the Ivy League regular season and postseason tournament in the process. The Tigers also upset the sixth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the Round of 64 in Bloomington on Saturday.

 

Indiana did shoot 51% from the field, but only took 43 shots because they turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 18 Princeton points. That and the fact that Princeton dominated the offensive glass 10-1 was a big reason the Tigers were in the game for longer than Hoosier fans hoped.

 

It was a special night on so many levels, but for Indiana’s four seniors, it was likely the last time they will play inside the hallowed Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. It’s even more special for Patberg, who is in her seventh season of college basketball. Patberg made sure to give Moren a big hug while she was doing a TV interview after the game.

 

Moren mentioned that it’s so special to end a season at home with a win, and made note of Tyra Buss and the 2017-2018 team that won the WNIT, with their last game the WNIT Championship game victory.

 

Indiana’s quest to reach a second-straight Elite Eight will continue next Saturday when they travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut to take on the 2-seeded UConn Huskies. The game will tip off at 2 PM ET at the Total Mortgage Arena with Derek Decker and Sam Newcombe on the call from New England on WIUX 99.1 FM and online HERE.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF IU ATHLETICS

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