TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State coach Teri Moren has preached to her women’s basketball team that consistent quality results at the defensive end will translate to the offensive end.
For junior Jasmine Grier and the Sycamores, their coach’s message was infallible last weekend.
Grier, a native of Commerce, Ga., went 7 of 9 from the field for 22 points in ISU’s momentous win Sunday at Wichita State, finally notching that breakout game that seemed inevitable to her teammates and coaches.
“We get to see her every day in practice. We’ve seen her have practices where she doesn’t miss shots,” Moren said Tuesday prior to an upbeat practice in Hulman Center. “She’s hit five 3s in a practice. We haven’t seen it in a game yet. Our fans just haven’t seen it yet.”
Grier has had games where she’s passed up wide-open shots. That didn’t happen Sunday in Koch Arena.
“Not for those 40 minutes. She had this look in her eye that she was not going to be denied. She played that way for  minutes,” Moren said.
The soft-spoken guard discussed more than a week ago about how the coaching staff was appealing to her to play with confidence.
Moren’s insertion of Grier into the starting lineup six games ago seems to has aided Grier’s development.
“I think as we put her in the [starting] lineup, she’s gained more confidence,” Moren said. “We played 40 minutes of zone against Wichita, which I wouldn’t have thought we’d ever do, and she played the top of it and was real active.”
Grier’s growing comfort in ISU’s defensive gameplan has been visible the past two months. Perhaps her offense is on the rise next? Her ability to rise to the occasion to help the Sycamores end the Shockers’ 12-game home winning streak might be a sign of more to come.
She was shooting just under 33 percent prior to Sunday’s game, but she scored ISU’s first five points in the second half to put the Sycamores on track to a 63-51 win. Grier had 17 by the midway point of the second half.
It was a needed weekend of success, since they were coming off three losses in their past four games.
“It was a great weekend, not just because we won, but it was great because of the way we won. We just honed in on the defensive end of both games. As we keep trying to convince this group, if we can be connected on the defensive end and really focus in on that end, our offense will come easier for us,” Moren said.
“We got to see a little bit of that on Friday night. Just took the momentum into Sunday’s game against Wichita State. We knew in order to win the game it was going to have to be done on the defensive end. It was going to be a physical game. We had to match the physicality that was going to be part of the game. We saw that here in the way they roughed us up.
“The way we approached it is the most satisfying thing.”
The road trip is one of two especially long weekends on ISU’s league schedule, the other being next week’s Northern Iowa-Drake trip. But Moren said this one is the toughest due to the late nights and early mornings.
The trip started with a Friday morning flight well before the sun came up.
“It’s the toughest weekend. Long trip. You’re up at 4 [a.m.]. You’re flying. You’re trying to get your kids to rest a little bit, then you’ve got to practice and you’re waking up. Then it’s a long day waiting for the game to start,” said Moren, whose team dominated Missouri State by a score of 73-37.
“Then it’s a four-hour drive in between on Saturday, so you’re on a bus from 7 o’clock to 12 when you get in. We had a quick turnaround and had to practice from 12:30 to 1:30 because the Wichita men were playing that night.”
The third-place Sycamores hope to carry that momentum into this weekend’s homestead against a Loyola team that outworked them in an earlier loss at Chicago.
“It has to give us a little bit of momentum but also a little more confidence. We were pretty low after last week coming into the prep week after a tough Evansville loss,” Moren said.
“It seems like we’ve played really great on Friday nights and subpar on Sundays. I felt that was a monkey that was silently on our back, that we weren’t able to put two consecutive games together. It was nice to see we were able to do that.”