If it were up to Indiana guard Jamie Braun, she might choose to play every game at the Kohl Center against the Wisconsin Badgers.
The Marshfield, Wis., native has had a pair of excellent performances in the two meetings between the Hoosiers and Badgers this season.
When the teams met on Jan. 15, in Bloomington, Ind., Braun scored 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting in the Hoosiers’ 64-61 win.
As the Hoosiers came to the Kohl Center for Monday’s contest, Braun played one of her best games of the season in front of a number of friends and family. The 5-foot-8-inch junior scored 20 points and shot 6-for-11, including 3-for-6 from 3-point range and 5-of-6 at the free-throw line.
“It’s always an extra blessing when your mom and your brother and your sister-in-law [are] here to watch you play,” IU head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “It was really neat to see her have some success here because we haven’t had success here in a couple years.”
Braun led the Hoosiers with 43 minutes in the 67-61 overtime victory, sitting for just one minute in each half and playing the entire extra period.
After scoring just five points in the first half, the IU guard picked up her play, scoring 15 points in the last 25 minutes. Braun’s biggest shot came with 1:42 remaining in overtime as she buried a deep three to break a 57-57 tie and give Indiana the lead for good.
“Jamie wasn’t open really,” UW head coach Lisa Stone joked. “She was at half court when she shot that, but we had no help.”
Braun also made a big play with the clock winding down in regulation. That time, however, she was unable to get open for a shot but happened to find teammate Kim Roberson all alone on the wing for the game-tying 3-pointer.
It was a play that showed Braun’s leadership ability and her awareness to take advantage of a miscue by the Wisconsin defense.
“I’m not going to point fingers at anybody, but we left Roberson to go help on Jamie,” Stone said. “We couldn’t get back in time and she got an open look. That was a breakdown.”
UW guard Teah Gant — who played all 45 minutes of Monday’s game — was given the unenviable task of guarding Braun for the duration of the contest. Despite Braun’s point totals, Stone praised Gant’s defensive performance in defending one of the better offensive guards in the Big Ten Conference.
“She’s a great player (and) very hard to defend,” Gant said of Braun. “She’s always moving. She obviously can hit shots like two to three feet off the 3-point line, so you just really have to stay up in there. Unfortunately, she got that one three off, but we played good defense the entire time.”
Braun, who ranks 11th in the Big Ten in overall scoring and fifth in conference play, has really developed into the Hoosiers’ leader on the court, something invaluable to Legette-Jack’s squad.
The three she hit against Wisconsin was not the first big late-game shot she has hit from beyond the arc. As a freshman, she hit an open three against Kentucky to win the game.
“Jamie’s our general,” Legette-Jack said. “We decided, ‘Jamie, we’re going to win games or we’re going to lose games with you having the ball in your hand.’ We reminded her of [the Kentucky game] and (she) decided that, if it goes or it doesn’t, I’m going to be empowered by the coaches and I’m going to take the open shot.”
Even with the three Braun hit to give the Hoosiers a lead they would not relinquish, Legette-Jack gives even more credit to her for her ball-handling skills throughout the game.
“I just think that she did a great job of controlling the ball for the entire game,” Legette-Jack said. “She did a good job of dialing people up for the entire game … when you do all that pointing outward to everybody, the blessings come back to you, and at the end of the game it was her time.”