After trailing the entire game, with 11 seconds left, senior center Simone Deloach found herself under the basket with no one around her and the ball in her hands. She had scored just two points until that point, but with an easy lay-in, she gave Indiana its only lead – and the only one the Hoosiers needed – as they knocked off Northwestern 66-65 in the third round of the women's NIT.
Fellow senior Tabitha Gerardot fed Deloach after driving in the lane and drawing plenty of attention from Northwestern's defense, and IU head coach Curt Miller said it was special for the senior duo to create such a big moment with the game on the line.
"At this time of the year, it's really about your seniors," Miller said. "You couldn't script it any better for that senior class that that's what happened at the end cause I'm proud to keep working with them."
Freshman guard Larryn Brooks led the Hoosiers with 27 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.
Early on, the Hoosiers fell behind quickly trailing 18-9 at the second media timeout. From there, Maggie Lyon hit a layup and Lauren Douglas nailed a 3-pointer in under a minute to bring IU to its largest deficit of the game at 23-9.
Deloach's first bucket of the game spurred a 7-0 IU run that included one of Brooks' 3-pointers, and suddenly the Hoosiers trailed by just six.
The Hoosiers stayed within striking distance in the second half, trailing by between six and 10 points, but for a while they could never string together enough baskets to get the game to a one-possession game. Even while stopping Northwestern on eight-straight trips down the floor with missed shots and turnovers, the Hoosiers couldn't muster enough offensive momentum to break through.
Still, Miller kept telling his team to keep working.
"He kept talking about his big word for tonight was ‘believe', and I think we did that tonight," Brooks said.
IU stayed behind by at least six for the first 16 minutes of the second half until a layup from Brooks finally got IU within just four. Her 3-pointer the next time down the court with 2:34 remaining pulled IU within a single point.
Northwestern's Douglas responded with a layup the next time down the court, but it would be the final bucket for the Wildcats. After Deloach's layup to take the lead, Lyon missed a baseline jumper with three seconds left, and Alexis Gassion pulled down the rebound and avoided Northwestern defenders trying to foul as the final seconds ticked off the clock.