Indiana is headed to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2006.
The Hoosiers took care of Rutgers on Friday by a final score of 78-60 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
IU took an eight point lead into halftime and maintained that margin throughout most of the second half.
The Hoosiers were led by redshirt junior guard Ali Patberg with 28 points. The Columbus, Ind. product had 14 points in the first quarter to help IU jump out to an early lead that they would never relinquish. A Patberg three-pointer gave Indiana a 7-4 lead at the 6:47 mark of the first quarter and the Hoosiers never trailed again.
“I thought our guys, especially this one to my right, Ali, she came out just being super aggressive,” head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “I’ve said it here probably in the last month over and over again, when Ali Patberg is aggressive the way she was this afternoon, the entire team gains a lot of confidence, and because of that, everybody else is scoring steps up and feels confident.”
Patberg is averaging more than 25 points per game over her last four contests, all IU wins.
“I just think coaches and my teammates have been telling me to be aggressive, and I’m just going to do whatever it takes to win, and like I said, they’ve been telling me to be aggressive, and I want to win, so that’s what I do,” Patberg said.
Joining Patberg with double figures in the scoring column were Aleksa Gulbe with 15 points, Jaelynn Penn with 12, and Grace Berger with 11.
Penn was helped to the sidelines with an injury in the third quarter but later returned to the game. Although she came back in, Moren indicated that a noticeably hobbled Penn had an ankle injury and her status for Saturday is not clear.
Waiting for IU in the semifinal round will be a major challenge. Maryland swept Indiana this season and is the No. 1 overall seed at the event.
“I do think that I have a group in that locker room that really believes that they can win, that they can beat them,” Moren said of facing the Terrapins for a third time.
Indiana and Maryland are scheduled to tip at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night.
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