Indiana women’s basketball hadn’t heard cheers from its home crowd since Feb. 27, 2020. The team played in front of fans during the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but not in Bloomington. That changed Sunday night.
Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall echoed with cheers, applause and even some boos directed at the referees throughout the night as No. 8 Indiana beat No. 13 University of Kentucky 88-67. Indiana improved to 2-0 with the win.
“We anticipated a great crowd,” head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “We really appreciate our fans.”
An hour before tipoff, Hoosier fans were already filling their seats and head-bobbing to music from the basketball pep band. Minutes before tipoff, Hoosier fans were clapping in time to the drums as the team took the floor for their warm up. Cheers only got louder from there.
Junior forward Mackenzie Holmes stunned the crowd when she put up Indiana’s first 11 points, going 6-6 on field goal attempts and 1-1 on 3-pointers in the first quarter. Holmes’ 3-pointer drew some of the loudest cheers of the night.
“She started off really on fire,” Moren said. “I expect that.”
Holmes finished the game with 29 points and seven rebounds, and as she went to the bench in the fourth quarter the crowd rose to its feet for her once again.
The only 3-pointer with cheers to outmatch Holmes’ came courtesy of senior guard Grace Berger, who drilled a buzzer-beater shot to end the first half. The crowd shot to their feet and Indiana went to the locker room for halftime surrounded by cheers.
“Hoosier Nation showed out today,” Holmes said. “There’s no other way to put it. They were incredible and they gave us energy.”
Berger and Holmes were two of four Indiana players to score in double-digits, and every time they handled the ball the crowd went wild. Without enthusiasm from the fans, Indiana wouldn’t have thrived the way they did, Moren said.
“We needed their energy throughout,” Moren said. “Our guys play off of their energy.”
And play off the crowd’s energy the Hoosiers did, especially from players like Holmes and graduate student guard Ali Patberg. Patberg, who only scored 6 points against Butler, scored 16 points Sunday.
After scoring her first 3-pointer of the season, Patberg turned to shrug at the crowd with a smile before running down the court.
The Hoosier faithful didn’t just cheer, however, as both Indiana and Kentucky dealt with foul trouble throughout the game. Indiana finished with 18 and Kentucky with 24. Six players finished with four fouls.
Whether the call was for or against Indiana, the entire hall filled with noise to fuel the Hoosiers to keep playing.
“I think that’s the type of crowd we need every single home game,” Holmes said. “I’m just so thankful that we have the fanbase that we do. We are extremely blessed to have such a supportive fanbase.”
Indiana will remain in Bloomington to play Norfolk State University at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Norfolk State is 2-1 this season and lost its last matchup to Ohio State 86-48.