Indiana coach Teri Moran said her team will embrace playing in front of a large crowd on Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena.
“The atmosphere won’t be anything different than what we’re used to because we’re really lucky here at Indiana to have such a great following in the Bloomington community,” said Moran, who noted that the Hoosiers won the WNIT title game in front of 13,007 witnesses last March at Assembly Hall. “They come out and support women's basketball.”
Of course, the NCAA Tournament stage is bigger and the vast majority of the fans will be supporting Oregon, the No. 2 seed in the Portland Regional, in the second-round matchup against No. 10 Indiana on Sunday (6 p.m., ESPN2).
The Hoosiers (21-12) pulled off a mild 69-65 upset of No. 7 Texas in the first round on Friday.
“They won the WNIT last year, so they know how to win in the postseason in a one-and-done situation,” coach Kelly Graves said after the Ducks’ 78-40 win over No. 15 Portland State in front of a crowd of 6,523. “That helps. They’ve won seven tournament games in a row. We’re going to have to be even better than we were tonight. We’ve got to give that same kind of defensive effort.”
Oregon led for 36 minutes, 48 seconds during the dominant win over the Vikings (25-8).
In the Indiana-Texas matinee, there were eight lead changes in the fourth quarter.
Then a 3-pointer by Jaelynn Penn with 1:57 remaining gave the Hoosiers the lead for good. The sophomore guard finished with a game-high 24 points.
“I feel like my teammates set good screens on our plays and I took the opportunity to take good shots,” Penn said. “I was hot early, so they kept getting it to me, and thankfully I was able to knock them down.”
A basket by Jatarie White cut Texas’ deficit to two points but then the two teams exchanged turnovers in the final 25 seconds before Indiana’s Ali Patberg iced the game with a pair of free throws.
The Longhorns (23-10), who are ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and had made it to the Sweet 16 the last four years, were led by Danni Williams’ 15 points.
Indiana opened the second half with a 17-3 run capped with a 3-pointer by Bendu Yeaney to give the Hoosiers a 46-40 lead.
Penn made two early 3-pointers and scored eight points in the first half to help the Hoosiers get out to a 23-17 lead.
Texas outscored Indiana 20-6 in a dominant second quarter to take a 37-29 lead at the intermission.
But the Longhorns were 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) from the field, including 0-for-4 on 3-pointers, in the fourth quarter.
“They just played harder than us down the stretch,” Texas guard Sug Sutton said. “We didn’t play defense the way we’re supposed to coming out of the first half, so they took the lead and ran with it. They played a really good game, so props to Indiana.”
Ionescu a Naismith finalist
Oregon junior Sabrina Ionescu was named one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy recognizing the most outstanding player this season.
The other three finalists — Louisville’s Asia Durr, Iowa’s Megan Gustafson and Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale are the other candidates — are seniors.
Ionescu was named the Pac-12 player of the year for the second time after leading the Ducks to back-to-back regular-season championships. She had 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds during the first-round win over Portland State.
Oregon improved to 12-14 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Seven of the wins have come during the last three seasons. … The Ducks lead the series with Portland State 28-10 and have won 27 of the last 29 meetings. … Oregon’s 16 steals were the team’s most in a game this season. … The Pilots did not have any second-chance points.
“Everybody can make one mistake. That’s her one,” Graves said of Ionescu’s technical foul for taking a shot from the bench late in the fourth quarter. “She doesn’t get another like that.”