A rivalry was re-born Friday night in Assembly Hall as Indiana University’s women’s basketball program, beginning a new era under coach Curt Miller, faced Indiana State for just the second time since 1991.
The Hoosiers’ 60-48 victory in a rugged defensive battle that gave Miller his first home victory at IU against an opponent he considered the favorite.
“Teri’s going to win a lot of games with that team this year,” Miller said of Indiana State coach Teri Moren. “I really look forward to watching them. It should be a great rivalry. Right now, they have more Indiana players than we do. Player for player they may be more talented than we are, but tonight we gutted out a home win. “
The two teams will play the next three years, as Moren’s squad will have a chance for redemption next year in Hulman Center.
This in-state rivalry was fiercely competitive and physical throughout.
Indiana State struggled to execute against the taller Hoosiers as Anna Munn was held to three second-half points, those coming on a late 3-pointer after she posted 13 points in the first half.
Behind Munn’s offense and a scrappy defense, the Sycamores took a brief lead in the first half.
ISU took a 22-21 lead on Marina Laramie’s putback shot. Then ISU led 24-21 on a Whitley bank shot.
The action got a little heated between Munn and IU’s Jasmine McGhee.
Munn was whistled for a defensive foul trying to deny McGhee but the IU senior wrapped Munn at the neck and knocked her to the ground, drawing a dead-ball technical foul. Both players hit two free throws, costing neither team momentum.
But IU would grab that momentum shortly after.
IU re-took the lead, 25-24, on an Aulani Sinclair four-point play with 5 minutes, 34 seconds before halftime, and the Hoosiers never relinquished their advantage as Sinclair poured in a game-high 22 points.
The 6-foot-1 senior guard who starred at Eminence High School gave the Sycamores fits.
“Giving Sinclair two four-point plays, those were big momentum plays, gets the crowd into it. Those were big-time shots,” Moren said.
Sinclair shot 7 of 14 from the field, but the Sycamores held the Hoosiers to 9-of-25 shooting in the second half to give themselves a chance to battle back.
ISU did claw within 38-36 on a Travecia Franklin layup with 10:47 left in the game, but IU responded with a 9-2 run over the next 3:23.
“We were pretty pleased with how we defended, only giving up 60 points,” Moren said. “One thing about our kids, they’re going to battle. I think our kids played hard on that end. Tonight, our play on the offensive end was the difference.”
ISU lacked balance offensively. Jessica Valley hit a couple outside shots to help ISU rebound from a slow start, but it was mostly Munn being assertive offensively. ISU’s biggest post threat, Racheal Mahan didn’t get many touches, while also battling foul trouble.
With a myriad of post players that ranged from stocky 6-footers to long, lanky 6-3 centers, the Hoosiers took away Mahan, holding her to one field-goal attempt after Mahan scored 18 points on Monday night against Marshall.
“The lack of shots that Racheal Mahan did not get, that falls on the staff,” Moren said. ‘We’ve got to figure out how to get her some touches. We’ve got Munn, we’ve got Taylor and Valley’s going to have to knock down some open shots as well. We need more scoring.”
ISU’s lone senior, Whitley had eight points, four assists and four steals, but Moren needs more leadership from her point guard.
“Taylor didn’t do a very good job of tonight was keeping us organized,” Moren said. “I felt like we were out of sync and that’s your point guard’s job. Taylor knows that. She’s probably the one in the lockerroom that’s down the most. You’re dealing with a young team. … this is a young basketball team that needs guidance and needs leadership.”
INDIANA STATE (48) — Mahan 0-1 3-8 3, Valley 2-5 0-0 5, Johnson 1-6 0-0 3, Whitley 2-6 4-6 8, Munn 4-18 4-4 16, Zurek 0-0 0-0 0, Laramie 2-3 2-2 6, Rademacher 0-0 0-0 0, Franklin 2-5 3-6 7. Totals 13-44 FG, 16-26 FT, 48 TP.
INDIANA (60) — Rubene 1-4 0-0 2, Sinclair 7-14 5-6 22, Taufa 2-6 0-0 4, McGhee 3-10 6-6 12, Newbauer 0-3 0-0 0, Arnold 0-0 0-0 0, Bell 2-6 2-2 8, Ussery 0-0 0-0 0, Chaplin 3-3 2-2 8, McCurty 1-2 0-0 2, Deloach 1-1 0-2 2. Totals 20-49 FG, 15-18 FT, 60 TP.
Halftime score — IU 33, ISU 30. 3-point shooting — ISU 6-19 (Munn 4-12, Valley 1-3, Johnson 1-2, Whitley 0-2), IU 5-14 (Sinclair 3-, McGhee 0-1, Bell 2-6). Rebounds — ISU 33 (Mahan 11, Valley 6), IU 36 (Taufa 9, Rubene 8, Chaplin 6). Steals — ISU 5 (Whitley 4, Franklin), IU 4 (Sinclair 2). Assists — ISU 10 (Whitley 4, Zurek 2, Franklin 2), IU 11 (Newbauer 4, Bell 4). Turnovers — ISU 19, IU 15. Blocks — ISU 1 (Johnson), IU 5 (Sinclair 3, Taufa 1, Chaplin). Att. — 2,182.
Next — Indiana State (2-1) plays Tuesday at IUPUI. Indiana (2-1) plays Monday at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.