Indiana women hold VCU to 32 points in 1st round of NCAAs

Grace Berger scored 13 of her 20 points in the first half, Ali Patberg scored 12 of her 17 after halftime, and No. 4 seed Indiana held 13th-seeded VCU to 24.1% shooting in a 63-32 victory in the opening round of the women’s NCAA Tournament

SAN ANTONIO — Indiana was locked in on defense — holding VCU to the sixth-fewest points in the history of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

And the Hoosiers’ offense got going in the fourth, ending the game on a 24-3 run, to advance to play No. 12 seed Belmont on Wednesday in the Mercado Region.

Grace Berger scored 13 of her 20 points in the first half, Ali Patberg scored 12 of her 17 after halftime, and No. 4 seed Indiana held 13th-seeded VCU to 22.8% shooting in a 63-32 victory on Monday in the first round.

“That was kind of the message at halftime; if we get stops on defense, that’ll lead to some momentum on offense and some easy run-outs, easy baskets,” Berger said.

Berger scored all but nine of Indiana’s first-half points as both teams struggled from the floor, shooting below 34%. Mackenzie Holmes, Patberg and Berger each made a basket in the second quarter, that ended with each team scoring just six points.

“It’s been a while since we played. It was a rough first half, even though we went in with a lead but with this group you just anticipate getting better in the third quarter and even better in the fourth,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said.

Holmes took her turn in the fourth, scoring six points in the opening four minutes, and the Hoosiers ran away with it as VCU did not make a field goal in the quarter.

Holmes finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocks for Indiana (19-5). Berger also grabbed eight rebounds, and Aleksa Gulbe had seven points and 10 boards. Berger was 9 of 16 from the field, Patberg 7 of 12, and Holmes 5 of 6 with the rest of their teammates going 3 of 20.

Indiana made just two of its 12 3-point attempts in the first half, but made three of its first four after halftime.

Chloe Bloom and Sam Robinson each scored eight points for VCU (16-11), which entered its second NCAA Tournament having won seven of its last eight including the Atlantic 10 championship. Robinson was 1 of 11 from the field.

“I told our players, and especially our seniors, … there’s only been two teams to put on the VCU uniform and reach the NCAAs, and the first to win the A-10 title,” VCU coach Beth O’Boyle said. “The amount of time and energy and heart that they put in this season and in the last four years, to accomplish that, I’m proud to be the VCU coach.”

AAU CONNECTION

Indiana starter Nicole Cardano-Hillary and VCU guard Madison Hattix-Covington are longtime friends, having played with — and against — each other during AAU play in Texas.

Cardano-Hillary had five points and five rebounds in 34 minutes, and Hattix-Covington was scoreless in 24 minutes.

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