by Skip Daley – South Central Indiana News Network For the first time in program history, Assembly Hall was the location of an NCAA Tournament game. The Indiana University Women’s Basketball team is the #3 seed in the Bridgeport (East) Region, and that provided them the opportunity to host a First and Second Round game.
IU drew the opening game on Saturday afternoon, matching up against 14th seed Charlotte. At noon the doors opened up, as Hoosier Nation filtered in to cheer on their 11th nationally ranked Hoosiers. It was a sea of red that filled Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, with 6,400 in attendance.
Indiana would take the opening tip but miss their first possession. The 49ers would make a 3-pointer to begin the scoring, but the Hoosiers would respond with a 7-0 run. It was Ali Patberg who laid in Indiana’s first points, quickly followed by an Aleksa Gulbe triplet. After a few minutes of back and forth, IU would start to break away, however. After 10 minutes of play, the Hoosiers led 22-12.
In the second quarter, Indiana could do no wrong. They played solid defense, guarding the perimeter with ease. IU grabbed 19 defensive rebounds in the first half of play. Additionally, Indiana shot 47% in the first half. The Hoosiers were looking sharp, with 8 team members seeing action and 7 of them contributing with points in the first half.
After a Grace Berger drive and mid-range pull-up, IU would walk into the locker room up 42-24.
The third and fourth quarters were also dominated by Indiana. The Hoosiers were shooting nearly 60% from the field and jamming the glass to outrebound the 49ers. Indiana looked like a team hungry to advance.
Balanced offense and defense, with great ball movement, kept the Hoosiers on top of their game. IU would finish with 23 assists throughout the game, demonstrating their selflessness. At the final buzzer, Indiana had won 85-51, with 10 different Hoosiers scoring in the game.
Junior Forward Mackenzie Holmes led the Hoosiers with 19 points and 8 rebounds in 25 minutes of play. All-American Senior Guard Grace Berger sank 18 points, rebounded 6, and provided 6 assists. Gulbe had 18 and pulled down 7; Graduate Guard Nicole Cardano-Hillary put up 11 and had 5 assists; Patberg sank 7 and had 4 assists; and, Sophomore Guard Chloe Moore-McNeil added 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists off of the bench.
Charlotte was led by Graduate Guard Octavia Jett-Wilson, who scored 19, which she also averages for the season. Jett-Wilson was the Conference USA Player of the Year, leading the 49ers to their Conference regular season and Tournament Championships.
Next up, Indiana will play Princeton Monday evening at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
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