No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball is set for another Big Ten contest Thursday night, this time on the road against Penn State. The injury-riddled Hoosiers hope to come away with one more win before entering a lengthy 10-day break.
Indiana is coming off an exhilarating 65-61 win over Illinois on Sunday in its first conference contest of the season. Illini junior guard Makira Cook torched the Hoosiers for 33 points, and the Indiana defense is looking to stand its ground against another elite guard Thursday night — Nittany Lion senior Makenna Marisa.
Marisa enters the contest averaging 18.7 points, 4.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. The 5-foot-11 guard had a phenomenal junior season, averaging 22.2 points per game en route to a First Team All-Big Ten selection. As Penn State’s primary option, Marisa has the skills to terrorize the Hoosiers.
“She’s one of the best, not even in the Big Ten, but in the country,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “She can do a little bit of everything. A great player for sure.”
Another elite player, Indiana senior forward Mackenzie Holmes, has taken her game to the next level this season. Holmes is averaging 20.9 points and 7 rebounds per game through nine contests. During the absence of co-star graduate guard Grace Berger, Holmes has responded with a scoring outburst Indiana hasn’t seen in 35 years.
The Hoosiers boasted plenty of bench depth earlier in the season, but injuries and departures have that number dwindling. It started with Berger, whose knee injury suffered at the Las Vegas Invitational was a brutal blow to Indiana.
The backcourt took another hit prior to facing then-No. 6 University of North Carolina, as sophomore guard Kaitlin Peterson was absent at tipoff. Peterson recently announced her entrance into the transfer portal.
Senior graduate forward Alyssa Geary missed Indiana’s latest game against Illinois due to an ankle injury suffered in practice. This required a six-player rotation against the Illini, but Moren said this is familiar territory.
“We’ve done that since I’ve been here,” Moren said of the short rotation. “I think we still do (have some depth). We are dinged up a little bit, but we’ve got business to take care of.”
Penn State enters the game with a 7-2 record. After a 7-0 start, the Nittany Lions lost back-to-back games against the University of Virginia as well as their Big Ten opener at Minnesota in a double-overtime thriller.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center. The game will be available to watch on BTN+.