That was gross. Very, very gross.
Three Indiana women’s basketball players fouled out in a 88-82 road loss to Iowa on Monday night. Simply a wild number. With that amount, something had to have gone wrong, like when an entire class fails a test.
Now, those three players fouling out wasn’t the sole reason the Hoosiers lost this game, but it was a pretty substantial one.
Two of Indiana’s forwards, junior Mackenzie Holmes and sophomore Kiandra Browne, were among the three sent to the bench. Holmes, especially prior to her injury, is Indiana’s bread and butter in the paint. She's a dominant scorer and an intimidating defender in the paint.
Browne comes off the bench mostly to play defense and draw fouls. Indiana doesn’t ask her to do much offensively, but she can provide solid defensive minutes in a pinch to relieve Holmes or senior forward Aleksa Gulbe.
Iowa faced a 5-point deficit with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and they had a clear gameplan to erase it: senior forward Monika Czinano.
The Hawkeyes passed the ball to Czinano with just about every chance they had, and she forced her way into the paint to score. In just under three minutes and 7 points from Czinano later, Iowa suddenly had a 2-point lead.
Then, just over a minute later, Holmes fouled out of the game while trying to defend Czinano in the paint again. Browne? Oh, she had already fouled out after the first 2 of Czinano’s 7 points during that stretch. Why do you think Iowa felt so comfortable with putting the game in Czinano’s hands?
The two forwards just couldn’t play defense against Czinano. Any and all attempts to do so were met with a sounding of a whistle and a foul call until they were out of the game. Of Iowa’s 88 points, 24 came from free throws.
So, what was Indiana to do without two of its forwards? Freshman forward Mona Zaric has played a total of 18 minutes this season, so she certainly wasn’t going to guard one of the conference’s most dominant bigs in a crucial stretch.
So instead, Indiana went small with sophomore guard Chloe Moore-McNeil. And speaking of small, the third player to foul out was graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary.
Yes, Cardaño-Hillary, Indiana’s most pesky defender. She’s usually matched up against Iowa sophomore guard and national player of the year candidate Caitlin Clark, whose elbows ended up striking Cardaño-Hillary’s face a concerning amount of times.
Cardaño-Hillary fouled out quite late, with just four seconds to go and in an attempt to regain possession of the ball. Funnily enough, Clark herself had four fouls this game with all of the elbowing going on.
To be fair, questionable officiating is not the sole factor in the Hoosiers’ loss. The officials didn’t run cold on offense during Czinano’s scoring stretch. That’s entirely on Indiana. But you simply cannot tell me that both forwards fouling out when trying to defend one player didn’t affect the outcome of this game.
This game was gross, please continue to enjoy Arby’s.