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Patberg leads No. 7 Indiana to 93-61 rout of Illinois

February 10, 2022 GMT

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — After a couple of slow starts in recent games, Indiana coach Teri Moren challenged her team to come out of the gates strong against Illinois.

Ali Patberg answered the call, scoring a season-high 26 points to lead the No. 7 Hoosiers to a 93-61 win Wednesday night.

After a 1-of-8 shooting performance in a win over Purdue on Sunday, Moren told Patberg to keep on letting it fly.

“She’s too good of a shooter,” Moren said. “She works too hard that Ali Patberg should never, ever pass up an open shot for us.”

The Hoosiers hit six of their first seven shots, and Patberg opened the game on a tear, hitting a jumper and a layup early. She nailed a second-chance 3 with 2:30 to go in the opening quarter as the Hoosiers raced out to a 24-6 lead.

“We needed to have a better start,” Patberg said. “The past couple of games, we’ve had a lot of slow starts. So our goal was to come out with a lot of energy. Coach Moren brought a lot of energy from the beginning when she came in the locker room with energy. We fed off that.”

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After Patberg hit another 3 to open the second quarter, Kaitlin Peterson seized an offensive rebound, then stepped back and hit a 3 to put the Hoosiers up 34-8 with 8:36 left in the half.

Patberg went 4 of 6 in the second quarter, scoring 12 points to power the Hoosiers (17-3, 9-1 Big Ten) to a 54-24 halftime advantage.

Forward Aleksa Gulbe reached double figures for the third-straight game, finishing with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting.

Adalia McKenzie led Illinois (6-13, 1-7) with 14 points off the bench while Jayla Oden added 13 points.

“Quite frankly, we didn’t play very good defense,” Illinois coach Nancy Fahey said. “We tried zone, we tried man. They’re a very opportunistic team when it comes to putting the ball on the floor and scoring. That just really hurt us in the first half.”

The Hoosiers were once again without leading scorer Mackenzie Holmes, who is out indefinitely due to a knee injury and has missed the last six games. But Moren was optimistic that Holmes could be back before the end of the regular season and the Big Ten tournament.

“We’ll get her back to Bloomington and get her doing just a little bit more,” Moren said. “I think everybody is excited about where she is right now in terms of her rehab, recovery and getting her back on the floor soon.”

“I think you’re going to see her back sooner than later,” Moren added.

The result marked Indiana’s largest margin of victory this season, surpassing a 31-point win over Fairfield on Dec. 9.

The Hoosiers have now won 13 games in a row over the Illini, dating back to 2013.

BIG PICTURE

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Indiana: The Hoosiers are proving they can win without Holmes. Sophomore forward Kiandra Browne won’t replace Holmes’ scoring, but she looks comfortable on the defensive end. The Hoosiers’ replacement-by-committee approach seems to be paying off with Gulbe and Berger crashing the boards hard.

Illinois: Without significant improvement on the defensive end, it’ll be difficult for the Illini to earn conference wins down the stretch. Illinois has allowed 70-plus points in seven of its last eight games, losing each time. The Illini’s last victory — a 68-47 win over Wisconsin on Jan. 9 — was the last time they held a Big Ten opponent under the mark.

UP NEXT

Indiana: hosts Michigan State on Saturday.

Illinois: hosts Nebraska on Saturday.