Iowa shuts down Illini, Berggren
INDIANAPOLIS – Ashley Berggren had been bumped and shoved. Elbowed and knocked to the court. Run into and run over.
Just another physical game in the life of basketball's human pinball?
With 7 minutes, 59 seconds left in Monday night's Big Ten Conference title game, Illini coach Theresa Grentz had seen her player take just about enough and removed the obviously frustrated Berggren from the game.
"I think at that point Ashley has given us everything she possibly could," Grentz said. "And there's some calls and whatever, I just felt we needed to be in sync again."
Berggren had just lost the ball out of bounds when she was summoned to the bench with Illinois trailing 53-42.
With the Big Ten Player of the Year on the bench, the Illini charged back into a 53-53 tie before again falling behind for good.
Berggren, after sitting out for more than 6 1/2 minutes, returned with 1:20 left and Illinois trailing 55-54. The junior guard, who had bailed the Illini out of so many jams in the past, couldn't do it this time. No one could.
"They did a good job defending me," said Berggren, who was limited to seven shots from the field and seven points. She entered averaging a team-high 18.7 points. Not that Berggren didn't make other key contributions. Her eight rebounds and six assists both were team highs.
Berggren's hard-driving style of play ordinarily puts her on plenty of collision courses. And her status as one of the top scorers in the Big Ten makes her a magnet for clinging and physical defensive attention, attention definitely paid by Iowa on Monday night.
"It was physical," she said. "It may have been more physical than usual. They were playing tough defense. They (the officials) were letting things go. I didn't get the number of shots I usually take, and that's a credit to Iowa."
Berggren conceded her frustration level rose as the game wore on.
"Yeah, a little frustrated, but you can't let the other team take you out of your game," she said. "Yeah, I was definitely frustrated, but the team was doing a great job with me not in there."
Which made her extended stint on the bench the right thing to do, Berggren said.
"Since the team was playing well, there was no need to have me out there at that particular time," she said. "Why disrupt something that's going well?"