For the second night in a row, Indiana basketball defeated a ranked University of North Carolina team in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. After the Hoosier men won Wednesday, the No. 5-ranked Hoosier women defeated the No. 6 Tar Heels 87-63 Thursday — despite missing star graduate student guard Grace Berger.
“We finished the business,” head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “Our men started it last night, and we felt like we had a responsibility to finish off the Tar Heels tonight.”
It was an uncharacteristically slow start for the Hoosiers. They have routinely put opponents in large deficits early in the first quarter but on Thursday, the Tar Heels were able to win the opening tip and score a quick seven points seemingly before the Hoosiers realized the game had started.
However, when Indiana responded it responded quickly, scoring 13 straight points after being sparked by a three-point-play from senior forward Mackenzie Holmes. The play was the first of Holmes three and-1s on the day, all of which she converted and all of which brought the cream-and-crimson-clad crowd to its feet.
Despite the Tar Heel defense swarming to deny entry passes to Holmes, it hardly mattered as the Hoosier star scored a game-high 25 points. Including Holmes, four Hoosier starters scored in double figures and the fifth, freshman guard Yarden Garzon, finished with nine points.
“To beat a great team like North Carolina it takes everybody, so this goes to our entire basketball team in terms of how we won this game,” Moren said. “We knew that everybody needed to do a little bit extra a little bit more without Grace being out there, and I thought that we answered the bell in a big kind of way tonight.”
Complementing Holmes’ dominant interior play, the rest of the team dominated from 3-point range, going 12/22 for a blistering 54.5%. Senior guard Sara Scalia and junior guard Sydney Parrish led the way from deep, each going 4/7. Parrish finished just behind Holmes with 24 points.
Without Berger, the burden of running the offense fell to Garzon and junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil. Though neither finished with outstanding scoring numbers, the pair combined for 16 assists, 14 rebounds and just three turnovers.
In addition to the players on the court, Moren praised the home crowd of nearly 6,000, the highest attendance for the team so far this season. North Carolina head coach Courtney Banghart said her team had trouble communicating because of the noise at times.
“Give a lot of credit to Indiana,” Banghart said. “They had a great crowd, and I think our guys were unable — I don't know if they couldn't hear, if they couldn't talk, I'd have to ask them. But not a very connected effort.”
North Carolina junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams also said the crowd played a role in disrupting the Tar Heels throughout the game. Todd-Williams finished as her team’s leading scorer with 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 24-point deficit.
Although the win was Indiana’s largest over a ranked opponent — let along the No. 6 team in the country — since the 1999-2000 season, Parrish said it’s just another game for the team.
“We just came out and played hard. It’s not really a statement for us,” Parrish said. “We should play like that every night.”