Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Indiana women’s basketball is riding high, and who knows when they’ll come down?

<p>Senior guard Sara Scalia looks for an open pass against Bowling Green on November 17, 2022, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana women&#x27;s basketball defeated No. 6 North Carolina on Thursday.</p>

Senior guard Sara Scalia looks for an open pass against Bowling Green on November 17, 2022, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana women's basketball defeated No. 6 North Carolina on Thursday.

A shark and a chicken dueled in a classic game of halftime musical chairs, but that wasn’t even among the top 10 most interesting things that happened in No. 5 Indiana women’s basketball’s assertive win over No. 6 University of North Carolina.

On Thursday night in a raucous Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers put all the ingredients together and cooked up a masterpiece of a performance. We’ve seen bits and pieces of potential so far this season, but the thumping of the Tar Heels was relatively unexpected. For one, it came without the presence of graduate guard Grace Berger, who is sidelined with a knee injury.

Oh yeah, and sophomore guard Kaitlin Peterson — who figured to see a significant uptick in minutes off the bench — mysteriously departed from the program. Still, despite nearly everything pointing in the wrong direction, the Hoosiers didn’t just survive. They thrived.

[Related: Kaitilin Peterson parts ways with Indiana women’s basketball]

Courtesy of a 3-point frenzy that was reminiscent of the 2017 Golden State Warriors, Indiana proved it belongs in the conversation of the best teams in the country. Perhaps more importantly, though, this team is ridiculously fun to watch.

We saw behind the back passes, 3-point shots from the North parking lot and dizzying ball movement. The bench was electric all game long, and chants of “We want UConn” roared through the packed student section to cap off the second-consecutive Tar Heel stomping for Indiana basketball.

Transfer guards junior Sydney Parrish and senior Sara Scalia fit the starting five like a glove, and freshman guard Yarden Garzon, who is more than earning the billing of “The Great Yardini” continues to dazzle with deceptive passes and flaming-hot 3-point shooting. While past teams often stalled on the offensive end and clawed for gritty victories, we’ve really only seen these Hoosiers coast. Everything has seemed easy for them.

They’re running, they’re gunning, and they’re annihilating everyone in their way. Right now, the moxie and swagger are palpable.

“This group is special because of the firepower that we do have,” head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “Will it show up every night? Maybe not. But what will show up every night is going to be our defense and our ability to rebound. Our chemistry has obviously come together nicely and quickly, probably quicker than I thought it could.”

What was most evident on Thursday night was the Hoosiers' impressively versatile arsenal of weapons. Scalia was scorching from range, knocking down four of seven threes, and senior forward Mackenzie Holmes had one of the quietest 25-point outings I’ve seen. Junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil continued to blossom, and her emphatic block was the exclamation point on a highly efficient night.

Parrish, who logged 36 minutes while always providing so much juice on the floor, acclimated to her newfound starting role with ease. Despite the 24 points and slew of highlight-worthy plays, she hardly gloated.

“I don’t think it was exactly a statement,” Parrish said about the victory. “I think we just played how we play. We should play like that every night.”

By now, we’re gaining an idea of what this team is capable of. But eight games into a long season, it’s hard to say they’ve reached a ceiling. We do know, however, that they can score adequately from all three levels, defend with tenacity and simply out-will their opponents.

Arguably no team in the country is riding as high as the Hoosiers after dismantling North Carolina. You think the players are having fun? How about the fans, a vast majority of whom spent the last two nights in Assembly Hall.

In fact, after a 3-point miss from Parrish in the third quarter, a fan behind me who violently arose in preparation to celebrate said he was, “getting to be surprised when they miss.” Moren continually said that 3-point production can be streaky, but I have to agree with the fan on this one. Whenever the Hoosiers spotted up for shots, they almost seemed guaranteed to fall.

It’s cliché, sure, but in 49 other states, it’s just basketball. In the Hoosier state, it’s everything.

“Winners win and winning is fun,” Moren said.

It sure is, coach. It sure is.

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Sebree (@mattsebree) and columnist Matt Press (@MattPress23) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s basketball season. 

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