News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

December 9, 2013

Tough defeat: Inability to finish drops ISU women’s record to 3-4

TERRE HAUTE — It wasn’t a smooth ride for Indiana State’s women’s basketball team against IUPUI on Monday. Defense wasn’t up to par. Turnovers were rampant. Foul shooting was not consistent and misses were ill-timed.

It didn’t help that IUPUI’s Dee-Dee Bellamy was 10 miles of bad road for the Sycamores.

The quick-handed point guard had four steals, but none bigger than when she stole the ball from Anna Munn with 22 seconds left with the game tied. Bellamy was fouled with 19.8 left, made a pair of free throws to put the Jaguars in front, and IUPUI won 68-64 at Hulman Center.

The Sycamores – picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference – fell to 3-4. To say the Sycamores were dispirited in the wake of the loss is an understatement.

“We’re extremely disappointed. As coaches and players, it’s perplexing. We worked extremely hard all week, especially on the defensive end,” ISU coach Teri Moren said. “We went back to square one and we talked about our identity. It’s not resonating right now with any of our kids and we need to find out why that is.”

Among the things that got under ISU’s skin was its inability to finish. ISU made just 2 of 6 free throws in the final 2:51 of the game. The misses kept the Jaguars alive and loomed large in ISU’s undoing.

“It’s an issue. Those are back-breakers. There’s no doubt about it. The answer is to get your rear end in the gym and shoot them. That’s the remedy. There’s no secret sauce, there’s no secret recipe,” Moren said. “If I’m a bad free throw shooter, it’s on me to get back in the gym and become a better shooter.”

Moren was unhappy with ISU's defense. IUPUI shot 57.1 percent in the second half and scored on six of its last nine possessions.

“The past is the past, but [defense] is something that we were pretty reliable with last year. We knew when we had to get stops, we could get stops. There's question marks in all of our minds whether we can get stops right now. I don't know why that is. We have to figure it out,” Moren said.

ISU had other problems. The Sycamores' 24 turnovers led to 23 points for the Jaguars. ISU had 26 team fouls in a tightly-called game, though one that was called by the letter of the new rules against contact. IUPUI also had a 35-4 edge in bench points.

Those fouls, turnovers and free throws came early and often. The Sycamores and Jaguars combined for 31 team fouls, 23 turnovers and attempted 38 free throws in the first half alone. Included was one technical foul apiece for each team, including one for ISU's Marina Laramie.

Given that, it was hard to create any flow and it favored IUPUI for most of the half. The Jaguars took the lead after Bellamy converted two consecutive steals into Jaguars points. ISU struggled to drain any shots (33.3 percent in first half) and IUPUI's advantage was 33-22 with 2:44 left.

ISU saved itself with an 8-0 run to end the half as it shaved its deficit to 33-30 by halftime.

ISU played better for most of the second half. A Natasha Zurek three-point play put ISU up at the 17:22 mark. ISU led by as much as six with 7:52 to go.

That's when IUPUI (7-3) began to establish itself. A 6-0 run wiped out ISU's lead and it was tit-for-tat the rest of the way.

“I don't think we were ever comfortable. We're not comfortable defensively right now. We're just not,” Moren said.

ISU tied the game with 49.3 seconds left when Laramie made a free throw and it appeared it had made a game-saving defensive stop when Akilah Sims missed a shot with 29 seconds left.

But Bellamy's steal of Munn was devastating.

“She was tough all game, but that’s no excuse for me to turn the ball over with that little time on the clock in that tight of a game. That's on me,” Munn said.

ISU had two shots to tie the game. Laramie, who was drawing triple-teams late in the game, missed a leaner at :06, but ISU tied up IUPUI's Shanika Maddox and got the ball back via the possession arrow.

ISU went to Laramie again with :02 left, but she badly missed a contested leaner. IUPUI rebounded and was immediately fouled. Frustrated, Laramie pounded the hardwood with both fists, received her second technical foul, and was ejected from the game.

In the end, the technical foul was elementary to ISU's fate. IUPUI made two of its final four free throws with :00.9 left to salt away the victory.

“It was ripe for the taking. We had made some mistakes down the stretch and let our emotions get the best of us,” Munn said.

ISU doesn't play again until a Dec. 18 trip to East Tennessee State. Between now and then, there's a lot to mull over.

“We have to pick it up on the defensive end. We have to talk to each other, communicate and know what we're in. If we can do that, everything else will follow” Zurek said.

 

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