In its first test of the early season, No. 12 Indiana women’s basketball defeated No. 11 University of Tennessee 79-67 on Monday in Knoxville. With the win, the Hoosiers improve to 3-0 but more importantly, get a victory that will likely boost their resume on Selection Sunday in March.
As the Lady Volunteer faithful filled Thompson-Boling Arena and the game tipped off, neither side gained a clear advantage early and Tennessee went into the first media timeout with a 1-point lead.
However, coming out of that first timeout, Indiana jumped out and controlled the game with an 11-0 run midway through the first quarter. In the final five minutes of the first period, Indiana won nearly every hustle play to secure loose balls and extra possessions. During the run, the Hoosiers grabbed four offensive rebounds. Those four added opportunities turned into 9 points, highlighted by junior guard Sydney Parrish flying into the paint for a putback layup off a missed 3-pointer by senior guard Sara Scalia.
“We wanted to get off to a fast start. We wanted to get some points on the board,” Moren said. “But we ultimately knew that the game was going to be won on the defensive end, our ability to rebound, our ability to make a lot of hustle plays tonight. Things that just don't show up in the stat sheet, I believe, are why we won.”
Having built a double-digit lead in the first frame of the game, Indiana had to maintain that lead for 30 more minutes to leave with the win. The Hoosiers kept the Lady Vols deficit at two possessions or more until the final buzzer sounded.
Tennessee’s best opportunity to cut it to a one score game came with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter when graduate student forward Jasmine Franklin got fouled on a layup and converted the and-one at the line. The play brought the crowd to their feet, getting louder than it had all night.
On Indiana’s next play down the floor, it was met with a zone defense from Tennessee, which the Lady Vols employed throughout the game. Indiana graduate student guard Grace Berger responded by taking the ball up the floor and making a move to find a soft spot in the zone to hit an open midrange jumper — a shot she has become synonymous with during her career.
“These are some veterans,” Moren said. “They know that this is the game, and there's going to be shifts. There's going to be more momentum changes. I just feel like we have a group that understands that, and I thought that they played with great discipline throughout”
Berger finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and senior forward Mackenzie Holmes added 16 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double of her own. Parrish, Scalia and junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil also scored in double figures for the Hoosiers.
For Moore-McNeil, the game was a bit of a homecoming, being from Greenfield, Tennessee — 300 miles and a five-hour drive from Knoxville. While at Greenfield High School, Moore-McNeil won a state title with Tennessee junior guard Tess Darby and freshman guard Edie Darby.
“It meant honestly the world to me,” Moore-McNeil said. “Seeing my old former teammates and had the whole town of Greenfield at this game. It shows how much they are behind not just me, but Tess and Edie as well.”
With the win, Moore-McNeil and Indiana return to Bloomington to face Bowling Green State University at 7 p.m. Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
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