Whether it was offensive rebounds or turnovers, Indiana gave it away to UConn far too many times on Saturday afternoon in Bridgeport, Conn.
And a 16-0 UConn start to the second half created a hill too tall to climb in the Round of 16 matchup.
“You just can’t allow that to happen against a team like UConn,” IU head coach Teri Moren said after the game of UConn’s run coming out of halftime. “It’s very difficult to overcome a start (to the second half) like that. We just did some uncharacteristic things. We knew it, we were very disappointed with that.”
The No. 2 seed Huskies defeated IU (24-9) by a final score of 75-58 at the Total Mortgage Arena in front of a heavily partisan UConn crowd. The loss ends in the season for the Hoosiers after a second straight trip to the Sweet 16.
“I’m really proud of our group,” Moren said. “We’ve had a tremendous season. We had some adversity we had to overcome, and as I said to these guys, we just continued to show up every day and do the work.”
UConn had 15 offensive rebounds on the day, and they had 19 more field goal attempts than IU, and scored 14 points off those second chance opportunities. Meanwhile the Hoosiers had 15 turnovers on their offensive end, which led to 13 points for the Huskies. IU had just four assists for the entire game on 23 made field goals but still managed to shoot 47.9 percent from the field.
“We just didn’t do a good job on the boards today,” Moren said. “They got second and third shot opportunities.”
The loss ends the college careers of starters Ali Patberg, Nicole Cardano-Hillary and Aleksa Gulbe. Patberg led IU with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. Grace Berger added 13, and Mackenzie Holmes had 12 points and a team high six rebounds.
An emotional Patberg struggled to process the end of her seven-year college career in the immediate aftermath.
“I’m disappointed we lost,” Patberg said. “I’m not a good loser and this is not how I envisioned going out.”
IU pulled to within 37-33 at halftime after Gulbe hit a 3-pointer at the first half buzzer, but the Huskies’ run coming out of the second half locker room gave them a 53-33 lead, their largest of the game, with 6:15 left in the third quarter. The Hoosiers were never able to get closer than 11 the rest of the way.
A confident looking Indiana jumped out to an 18-13 first quarter lead before UConn closed the opening stanza on an 8-0 run.
“I liked the start we got off to,” Moren said. “I didn’t like the third quarter. I’d like to have that one back.”
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