No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball junior forward Mackenzie Holmes got off to a hot start in the 2021 season, scoring double-digit points in each of the team’s first four games.
In Indiana’s loss to No. 7 Stanford University on Thursday, Holmes scored a season-low 6 points despite playing for a season-high 32 minutes. Holmes shot 3-of-12 from the floor against Stanford, including a missed 2-point attempt off of an offensive rebound while her team trailed by 3 in the closing seconds.
In Indiana's 53-51 win against the University of Miami in the Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship Saturday night in Nassau, Bahamas, Holmes bounced back, leading the team with 14 points and 10 rebounds, notching her first double-double of the season.
With Indiana leading by one point with just seconds remaining, graduate student guard Ali Patberg missed a 3-pointer, but Holmes grabbed a crucial rebound to keep the ball away from Miami and get to the free-throw line. Holmes knocked down one free throw to extend the lead to two, which would be the final points of the game after Miami missed a last-second three pointer.
After a late error following a rebound in her team’s first game in the Bahamas, Holmes responded in Indiana’s second with potentially the most important rebound of the game in its final moments.
Holmes credits the matchup with the Hurricanes for her performance, with the opponent’s style of play suiting her strengths better than the previous game.
“Against Stanford, it wasn't my night offensively,” Holmes said in a postgame press conference. “It doesn't mean I can't affect the game in other ways. And tonight, they were looking to throw the ball inside more, we knew we had an advantage. So it just really depends on the personnel we're playing against.”
Indiana has had a number of players see big games this season, including Holmes’ 29-point outing against the University of Kentucky, senior forward Aleksa Gulbe’s 22 points and 12 rebounds against Norfolk State University and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary’s near-perfect shooting performance against Butler University.
Sharing the spotlight has been a point of emphasis for the team as it tries to use its depth to its advantage instead of relying on one or two players night after night. So far, that has worked for Indiana.
“We can go down the list of the teams that we played so far, everybody's had their night at one point,” head coach Teri Moren said. “And that'll continue to be the case. But what we need to continue to see is balance, I want to see balanced scoring.”
Despite a balanced attack all season long and a big night for Holmes, Moren is not content with her team’s performance and said that the players see the result the same as a “lucky” win. With a Sweet 16 rematch with No. 5 North Carolina State University looming, the team still has room to grow.
“They’re smart enough, veteran enough and experienced enough to realize that tonight we're walking out because we got lucky,” Moren said. “It wasn't because of anything we did well, and they realize that. We have a big gap, we’ve got room to grow and continue to get better.”
While the team knows it was not a perfect performance, the Hoosiers got the win, and Holmes is proud of her team’s ability to secure a close-fought victory against an opponent that put up a serious fight.
“It's not always gonna be pretty,” Holmes said. “And we know that going into every game, we're gonna get every team's best shot.”