The train just keeps rolling.
After dominating No. 11 Tennessee on its home court — a banner victory for head coach Teri Moren — No. 12 Indiana women’s basketball turned to a home date with Bowling Green State University. On Thursday night, the Hoosiers dismantled the pesky Falcons 96-61, which led me to realize one thing is certain: Indiana isn’t slowing down.
As “Indiana, Our Indiana” faded away from the Assembly Hall speakers and spectators geared up for player introductions, a Hoosier fan behind me sent an ominous warning to the friend alongside him. “Big opportunity for a letdown,” he said. Poor guy. I shudder to imagine the atrocities he’s witnessed rooting for Indiana athletics over the years.
I certainly hope he didn’t act on his prediction with bets, because then he would have truly been let down. Anyway, I digress. It feels like all four of the Hoosiers’ victories this year have been marked by different storylines. The season opener against Vermont was the coming out party for freshman guard Yarden Garzon. The upset over the Lady Vols epitomized the team’s toughness and grit.
Against the Falcons, though, the Hoosiers did struggle a little bit. Indiana committed a season-high 18 turnovers, a large batch of which were unforced, and shot a measly 69% from the charity stripe on 13 attempts.
Of course, I probably sound like a cynic harping on inconsistencies in a 35-point blowout. So you know what? I won’t. They’ve earned the right to some segments of sloppy basketball after toppling one of the nation’s most talented squads.
The primary story of Thursday night’s win was one of determination. Of the team’s trio of trigger-happy newcomers in Garzon, junior guard Sydney Parrish and senior guard Sara Scalia, only Scalia shot higher than 29% from 3-point range against the Falcons.
In about every other facet of the game, however, the trio shined. Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes didn’t have the sharpest performance, despite her 16 points and eight rebounds, so it was up to the supporting cast to pick up the pieces and give graduate guard Grace Berger some assistance.
Parrish was a particular bright spot, as she notched her fifth career double-double and first in the Cream and Crimson. She constantly harassed ballhandlers with active hands and used her impressive length to fill lanes and wreak havoc. Her scrappy nature has allowed her to blossom as the team’s sixth woman, and she even has displayed potential to be a potent slasher.
Aside from Parrish, junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil has seemingly improved every single game. She runs the floor like a gazelle, shoots with an extremely pure stroke and best of all, is arguably the most talented Hoosier on the defensive end.
Even with plentiful contributions from Parrish, Moore-McNeil, Garzon and graduate forward Alyssa Geary, Scalia separated herself from the bunch. Her transfer from Minnesota was an intriguing one — in her three years as a Golden Gopher, Scalia was one of the nation’s premier sharpshooters.
She has shown that ability in her senior campaign, but on Thursday night, I think she had her best all-around performance of the season. The four rebounds, three assists and two steals accompanied her 17 points nicely on the stat sheet, but I don’t even think that did her justice.
After the game, Moren noted Scalia’s desire to become a more well-rounded player. She lauded the guard’s work ethic in practice, as well as in the film room. Against Bowling Green, she made significant strides in advancing beyond the notion of merely a player who can heat up from deep. She was a pest on defense whenever she was on the floor, and her off-ball movement and court vision have made marked improvements from just weeks ago.
With four games under Indiana’s belt, we’re starting to gain a solid sample size for what we can expect out of this team. If Thursday night’s win was any indication, we know that no matter who has the hot hand, we can expect scoring from each and every member of this roster. Scalia and Parrish picked up most of the pieces against the Falcons, but time will tell who’s turn is next.