For most of Thursday night’s game, No. 20 IU women’s basketball looked like it would suffer a home loss against unranked Wisconsin.
However, the team and its fans largely have freshman forward Mackenzie Holmes to thank for escaping with a 75-65 victory in overtime in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The Badgers came in at 10-10 and 2-7 in the Big Ten but played the Hoosiers like a tournament-caliber team. IU didn’t crack 30% shooting as a team in the first half and found itself down 20-4 with 3:47 left in the first quarter .
Junior guard Ali Patberg hadn’t scored since the first quarter, sophomore guard Grace Berger was 0-10 from the floor after a career-high 25-point performance Monday, and Holmes had just one shot made through three quarters.
“Let’s be honest, I’m not sure we looked like much of a basketball team that first half,” IU head coach Teri Moren said. “We were struggling on both sides of the ball.”
It was Holmes who provided the Hoosiers’ initial spark en route to a comeback. She hit five free throws in the third quarter and helped the Hoosiers inch as close to the Badgers as they had been since the first quarter.
“She didn’t have a great first half,” Patberg said. “At halftime we told her, 'You’re good, keep your head up, stay confident.’”
Holmes wasn’t finished then. In seven minutes of action in the fourth quarter, Holmes shot a perfect 3-3 from the field, all of which turned into and-one baskets. She was also 5-5 from the free throw line.
Those 11 points, plus four rebounds and a block, put Holmes at 18 points and nine rebounds on the evening. She would finish with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the night, just the second double-double for a Hoosier this season.
“She was huge,” Patberg said. “She was awesome down the stretch.”
Holmes’ offensive takeover not only energized what had been a quieted Assembly Hall crowd, but it opened the door for her teammates to chip in, too. Junior guard Jaelynn Penn scored the most important basket of the game — a corner three to tie the game at 61.
Penn’s game-tying three, coming with just 14 seconds left, wouldn’t have been possible without Holmes.
Holmes was subbed in right before the Hoosiers took the ball out of bounds. Playing the low post as the ball swung around the perimeter, it looked like the Badgers were keeping a much closer eye on Holmes.
Wisconsin closed in on Holmes to prevent her from shooting, and the ball eventually found its way to Penn, who was on the same side of the floor as Holmes. Against the collapsed Wisconsin defense, Penn drilled the wide open three.
With the game in overtime, Holmes handed the spotlight to Berger and Patberg, whose combined 13 points on three makes from deep pushed the Hoosiers past the Badgers.
Penn may have sent the game to overtime, and Patberg and Berger may have closed the door on the Badgers, but it was Holmes' effort that left the biggest mark on the game.