Indiana was never down by more than six in the second half, but they couldn’t seem to get over the hump.
When they finally did go in front on an Aleksa Gulbe 3-pointer with 4:26 left in the game, the floodgates opened.
The Hoosiers closed the game on a 14-0 run to take down a pesky Minnesota squad 80-70 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Gulbe led the No. 5 Hoosiers (15-3, 7-1) with a career-high 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting including 4-of-4 from three, and Grace Berger nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
Minnesota was able to maintain the lead for most of the game due to Sara Scalia’s 26 points including seven 3-pointers.
Trailing by as many as six early in the third, sophomore forward Kiandra Browne took the wide-open look at the rim off the inbound pass while Berger capitalized off a turnover to make it a one-possession game. The two teams would share runs in the frame, as Berger’s pull-up at the end of the third kept the margin at one, trailing 54-53.
The Hoosiers turned the jets on in the fourth, outscoring Minnesota 27-16 in the final 10 minutes of play which included the 14-0 finishing run over the final 4:42. Scalia’s 3-pointer with just under five to play proved to be the final bucket for her team on the night as Indiana chipped away on a Gulbe 3-pointer and regained the lead for good on a pocket pass to junior guard Grace Waggoner for the lay-in.
“We’re playing a lot of different pieces, we’re playing differently than we are used to, so there are certainly have been some hiccups along the way, but I thought we finally, in the fourth quarter, when they got out of their zone and started guarding us man-to-man we had some timely plays that we made and really happy with the way Leks (Gulbe) played tonight, she was huge beyond the arc,” coach Teri Moren said after the game.
“I thought Grace Berger was terrific. I thought Grace Waggoner came in and gave us great minutes in the fourth when we were struggling there with their ball screen action and just, I tell you, Sara Scalia is a tough guard.”
Attendance at the game was limited to essential personnel due to the winter storm in Indiana.
- The Indiana win was their fifth straight in the series against Minnesota.
- Nicole Cardaño-Hillary added 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.
- Ali Patberg scored in double figures for the 84th time in her career with 11 points.
- The Hoosiers shot 28-of-55 (50.9 percent) from the field and 7-of-14 (50 percent) from 3-point range.
- Indiana outrebounded Minnesota 34-27.
- The Hoosiers connected on 17-of-20 (85 percent) from the free-throw line.
- Indiana made six of their last seven shots in the game and their defense forced Minnesota into missing their last six shots of the game.
Indiana will host Purdue on Sunday. Tipoff at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall is set for 1 p.m. ET.
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