Women's Basketball Downs the Hoosiers

Saturday saw Laurie Pirtle's Bearcats down Big Ten foe Indiana in impressive fashion. On the strength of strong defense and balancing scoring, the Bearcats picked up their fourth straight victory since suffering their only loss of the season at Xavier.

The University of Cincinnati (7-1) pushed its current winning streak to four games Saturday afternoon, 73-59, thanks in large part to an impressive defensive performance against the University of Indiana (5-5). 

 

This is Cincinnati's best start to a season through eight games since 2002 when the team went 8-0.  That season the Bearcats finished 27-5 and made a trip to the NCAA Regionals.

 

The Bearcats utilized there 3-1-1 press to irritate and intimidate the Hoosiers all game long.  While IU is not known for their offensive prowess, the Hoosiers faced an impressive defensive lockdown from the ‘Cats all game long. 

 

The first thing most people think of when they hear the Hoosier state is the affinity of its citizens for shooting the basketball. However, as was displayed during this weekend matinee at Fifth Third arena, this collection of makeshift Hoosiers could not hit the broadside of an Indiana barn.  A late surge of buckets by Indiana made they numbers a little less shocking (.415), but for most of the contest the were held to under forty-percent shooting. 

 

While not entirely attributed to the play of the Bearcats, the tenacious play of each of the three zones UC slapped on Indiana definitely had an impact on affecting the quality of shot attempts their opponents were left.  Forcing 22 turnovers, the Bearcats turned the team from Bloomington's miscues into offensive opportunities.

 

Cincinnati racked up 26 points off turnovers.  The Bearcats press was largely to blame for the horrid offensive showing by Indiana.  UC managed to jump into the Indiana passing lanes with great effectiveness all game long.  The Bearcats finished the game with nine steals. However, when they were not able to come up with the possession they were still managing to tip passes and forcing the Hoosiers to reset their offense countless times, stifling any chance at establishing a sense of offensive continuity on the IU side of things. 

 

UC also took advantage of the speed and tempo of their offensive stylings that was initiated by their defense.  Of the 73 points UC scored 14 came on the break.  The Bearcats, who came into the nation as the top rebounding margin team in the country (+17.7), was actually out rebounded for one of the rare instances this season (36-to-33).  Though managing five fewer rebounds then their opponent from the offensive glass (15-to-10), the Bearcats managed to hold their own in the second-chance opportunity rations.  UC finished almost one-to-one in terms of chances to points, as their ten rebounds led to nine on second chance opportunities.

 

However, it was not just the up-and-down tempo of the Bearcats that helped propel them to victory.  For the contest, four ‘Cats scored in double-figures (Treasure Humphries, 21; Jill Stephens, 13, Shelly Bellman, 11 and Michelle Jones off the bench with, 11), while Micah Harvey scratched that plateau with nine points.  The balanced attack of the Bearcats led them to 49-percent shooting for the contest.

 

This was the seventh installment of the border war, with Indiana's record in the series now falling to 4-3 all-time against UC. This was the first meeting between the two teams since UC 1998-1999 season when Indiana beat the ‘Cats 61-51. 

 

The win also says a lot about the degree of competition Cats have played in recent weeks.  Opening with a relatively soft schedule, the Bearcats have since taken on teams from the A-10 (2) and Big Ten (one of the dominant conferences in women's basketball) conferences. Indiana has already played a pair of Big East teams this season, falling to both Notre Dame and Louisville in close games.  While losing both contests, the Hoosiers played well against two of the better teams in the 16-team Big East and had chances to pull the upset in each.

 

Indiana, who was projected to finish toward the bottom-third of the Big Ten this season, has shown through recent play and analysis of critics to likely finish as one of the five or six best teams in the conference.


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