BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Grace Berger stepped to the free-throw line with 25.2 seconds left. She had been struggling with her shot all night, going just 3-of-12 from the field, but she had a chance to seal the deal for Indiana Thursday night.
She calmly knocked in the first. She shot the second, held her shooting poise straight in the air as the ball swished through the net, giving Indiana a 69-65 lead over Michigan.
Berger shot 10-of-10 from the free-throw line, hitting eight of them in the fourth quarter, and those last two were the dagger as No. 11 Indiana defeated No. 14 Michigan 70-65.
"Grace goes ten for ten from the free-throw line that was huge," Moren said. "We knew it was gonna be a grind out game, which it was. I just think it speaks to their toughness that they have. They just never quit."
It was a huge victory for the Hoosiers, who trailed by one heading into the fourth quarter. The game teetered back-and-forth all night with 17 lead changes, but big shots from Ali Patberg and Aleksa Gulbe, clutch free throws from Berger and critical rebounds from Mackenzie Holmes got Indiana over the hump to hand the Wolverines their second loss of the season.
The win improved the Hoosiers to 14-4 overall and 12-2 in the Big Ten, and it will no doubt go a long way in Indiana's chase for a Big Ten title and a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
"I think we wanted it more, and we won," Patberg said.
Right from the start there was an intense energy in Assembly Hall. The two teams were getting up and down the floor at a fast pace and both benches were up and loud.
Michigan's leading scorer, Naz Hillmon, picked up two early fouls and sat for the final seven minutes of the quarter. But that didn't matter a lot to the Wolverines as they dominated on the boards, grabbing 14 rebounds in the first quarter to Indiana's four.
The Wolverines had seven second-chance points from those rebounds and took a 17-13 lead into the second quarter.
Then the Hoosiers got hot from behind the 3-point line. Indiana went 6-of-9 from deep in the second quarter, spreading the wealth with two from Patberg, two from Gulbe and two from Chloe Moore-McNeil off the bench.
It allowed the Hoosiers to regain the lead and take a 37-35 lead into halftime. Patberg was the aggressor all half, leading Indiana with 17 points at the break.
"I thought Michigan was willing to let us try to beat them from the outside, so it was good to see our shots falling," Moren said.
Michigan went on a 7-0 early in the third quarter to regain the lead, and the Wolverines kept it heading into the fourth, leading 52-51.
"Coaches kept saying it was winning time," Patberg said. "We had to get stops in the fourth quarter and do whatever we had to do to get the win."
That's exactly what Indiana did. The fourth quarter wasn't perfect from either team, but the Hoosiers were able to get enough stops, grab enough rebounds and knock down enough free throws to secure the win.
Despite Indiana's leading scorer Mackenzie Holmes struggling on offense, she came up with big rebounds and defensive stops in the final two minutes.
"Those were huge," Gulbe said. "Defense is so important, and she did a great job on Michigan's leader (Hillmon). Her rebounds came just at the right time."
Moren thought Holmes' contributions on defense were huge in the final possessions as well.
Patberg ended up leading the way with 21 points while Berger added 16 and Gulbe had 13.
"I thought Ali was great," Moren said. "You're only as good as your senior guard."
Next up for the Hoosiers will be a road game at Wisconsin on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. ET. Indiana was supposed to host Iowa this Sunday, but that game was moved to March 3.
"Michigan hadn't met Indiana yet this season, and tonight they did," Moren said.
- PATTERS OPTS OUT OF SEASON: Indiana's Danielle Patterson has opted out for the remainder of the year. CLICK HERE
- BERGER ADDED TO WATCH LIST: Grace Berger joins Ali Patberg on the Wade Trophy Watch List, getting added as a midseason addition. CLICK HERE
- PENN OPTS OUT OF SEASON: Indiana senior guard Jaelynn Penn has opted out for the remainder of the year. CLICK HERE
- CARDANO-HILLARY PROVIDING SPARK: Transfer Nicole Cardaño-Hillary has been a huge lift for IUWBB off the bench this season. CLICK HERE