BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Nicole Cardaño-Hillary shot a three from the corner and it bounced high off the rim. Aleksa Gulbe skied for the rebound the snatched it while pulled to the ground by Iowa's Caitlin Clark.
Not only was that a huge offensive rebound for Indiana, leading by four points with 2:50 remaining, but it was also Clark's fifth foul on the day, and she had to exit the court with a game-high 32 points.
"It was a difficult rebound to go get, and then it also took Caitlin Clark out of the game with her fifth foul, so really happy for our gang," head coach Teri Moren said.
From there, the Hoosiers took care of business on defense, executed on offense and made their free throws to secure an 89-80 win over Iowa, completing the season sweep over the Hawkeyes. It's Indiana's first sweep over Iowa since 1994.
"What a great afternoon for us," Moren said.
It was a complete team effort as well from Indiana. Clark, who leads the Big Ten in scoring as just a freshman, had a big first half, scoring 19 points, including a deep three at the buzzer to send Iowa into halftime with a five-point lead.
It was the second-straight game where Indiana allowed a deep three at the buzzer to give the opposing team momentum at halftime.
But the Hoosiers are a veteran team, and Moren told her team at halftime it's a 40-minute game, so Indiana came out in the second 20 minutes and ramped things up.
"I thought Iowa's energy in the first half was better. It seemed like they wanted things more," Moren said. "Once we fixed that, I thought we came out in the second half and did some really good things."
Cardaño-Hillary defended Clark well during stretches and got under her skin a few times, causing Clark to commit some offensive fouls.
"That's what Nicky brings to our team," Grace Berger said. "She's just a tenacious defender. Caitlin Clark is a really good player, and she's going to make shots, but I think Nicky was able to slow her down a little bit and make things tough for her, and that's exactly what we needed."
Then Mackenzie Holmes started to dominate in the paint. Holmes was grabbing rebounds left and right, establishing deep post position and getting easy baskets for her team.
She finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Indiana outrebounded Iowa 38-21, and 13 of those were offensive rebounds that allowed the Hoosiers to score 21 second chance points. The second chance points were the number one stat Moren thought was the difference in the game.
"That's something we've really been emphasizing in practice for awhile now," Holmes said. "It's nice to see it carry over into the game."
The Hoosiers also got stellar play from their backcourt as well. Grace Berger and Ali Patberg each had 22 points as well, with Berger grabbing six rebounds and Patberg dishing out eight assists. Cardaño-Hillary also scored in double figures with 13 points.
"Those three guards we have out there are really high level, high level guards, and they typically make good decisions," Moren said.
With the win, Indiana has now won eight-straight games and is 17-4 overall and 15-2 in the Big Ten. The 15 conference wins ties a program record as it was done 1982-83 season.
Indiana has one final regular season game left, and it's against Purdue at home on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. The Hoosiers are currently second place in the Big Ten standings, and if they beat Purdue, they will need Maryland to lose both of its last two games (against Michigan and Penn State) in order to claim the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and win the Big Ten regular season title.
Whether or not that happens, Indiana is very confident in its ability right now as the postseason is right around the corner.
"This is the best time of the year," Berger said. "We feel like we're playing our best individually and as a team. We're kind of in a rhythm right now. We're heading into March and the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament really confident and expecting to make a big run."
- PATTERSON 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