Just three minutes into No. 12 Indiana women’s basketball’s matchup against Bowling Green State University on Thursday, senior forward Mackenzie Holmes already had her first blocked shot.
Holmes met Bowling Green sophomore guard Jocelyn Tate in the paint to stuff her shot, then began sprinting down the court. Less than 10 seconds later, graduate student guard Grace Berger looked off a defender before firing a pass down low to Holmes for the open layup to cap off the fast break.
The play was part of a 21-2 run, spanning nearly seven minutes before the end of the first quarter. Over the course of the run, Indiana turned a 1-point deficit into an 18-point advantage and never looked back.
While there were still three quarters left to play, the game had already been decided. The Hoosiers only had to manage the double-digit lead the rest of the way to earn the 96-61 victory over the Falcons.
“Something that (head coach Teri Moren) really emphasizes before every game is that we throw the first punch, we want them to call first time out,” Berger said. "So I think we're just A) really excited coming out of the gate, but B) just really focused on executing our stuff, executing our defense, and just getting a strong start.”
The hot start has been a trend for the Hoosiers in this early season.
In its season opener against the University of Vermont, Indiana trailed by a point midway through the first quarter before ending it on a 9-0 run to establish control of the game. Indiana never allowed the Catamounts to challenge for the lead again. A similar 8-0 run against the University of Massachusetts Lowell gave the Hoosiers the lead for good in their second game as well.
Indiana’s most impressive start of the early season, however, came on Monday against No. 11 University of Tennessee.
On the road against a top-15 team, the Hoosiers opened up an 11-0 run coming out of the first media timeout. After that, the Lady Vols were never again able to bring the margin down to a single-possession game.
Coming off the win over Tennessee, Moren said she stressed the importance of not letting that victory affect how they began the game on Thursday.
“We always talk about getting off to a fast start,” Moren said. “As I said to them, after coming off of a night like we had the other night in Tennessee — and it's such a big win for this program — the last thing that we can do is show up here tonight and be flat.”
Indiana has combined to outscore its opponents 92-48 in the first quarters this season. In each game, Indiana scored at least 20 points and held its opponents to 14 points or less in the first period. Because of the leads in builds early in games, the Hoosiers can control the pace of the game and avoid risky plays as their opponent fights to get back in the game.
If the Hoosiers can continue jumping out to first quarter leads, they will continue finding themselves controlling the pace of play throughout games.
“As I always say, the average teams will just show up, the great teams show up wanting to improve and wanting to get better,” Moren said. “I thought they showed great maturity from the tip. It was good to see.”
Indiana continues its undefeated start to the season and moves to 4-0 with the win. On Sunday, it will have the opportunity to extend that start to 5-0 against Quinnipiac when the team’s tip off at 1 p.m. in Bloomington.
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