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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

Sara Scalia’s bounce-back game leads No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball past No. 13 Michigan

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When she joined Indiana women’s basketball this season as a transfer from Minnesota, the hope was sharpshooting senior guard Sara Scalia would serve as an additional scorer in the starting lineup who could stretch the floor.

Through the Hoosiers’ first few games, Scalia lived up to those expectations. In the first game of the season against Vermont, she knocked down a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 11 points — the first of seven double-digit scoring outputs in her first eight games with Indiana.

Across those eight contests, Scalia averaged 13 points on 37% shooting from 3-point range while also averaging nearly four rebounds and starting every game. In Dec. 1’s victory over then-No. 6 University of North Carolina, Scalia had arguably her most important performance since joining the team, hitting four triples and playing all 40 minutes while graduate guard Grace Berger was sidelined with an injury.

However, starting when Indiana kicked off Big Ten play versus Illinois on Dec. 4 in Bloomington, Scalia began to struggle. Her shooting numbers fell and, in turn, so did her scoring production. By the time Berger returned to the lineup on Jan. 8 at Northwestern, Scalia had only recorded one double-digit scoring output since North Carolina, and it had come against an overmatched Morehead State University.

As a result of the slump, when Berger returned to action, she replaced Scalia in the starting lineup rather than junior guard Sydney Parrish, who had served as the team’s first player off the bench at the start of the year. After starting all but two games across her four-year college career, Scalia was relegated to that sixth woman role for the first time.

Despite changing her role on the team, Scalia was unable to break out of her slump. In the first four games with Berger back, Scalia shot a combined 4-of-27 from the field for a paltry sub-15% field-goal percentage. From a statistical standpoint, Scalia’s worst game came in last week’s win over Illinois, when she failed to score a single point for the first time in her career.

While Scalia continued to struggle shooting the ball, head coach Teri Moren repeatedly expressed confidence in her guard to keep shooting because eventually they would start to fall.

With the No. 6-ranked Hoosiers in Ann Arbor facing No. 13 Michigan on Monday, Scalia chose the perfect time to finally have the offensive explosion her team knew she was due for.

Scalia was again the first player off the bench for Indiana and she again came out shooting, missing her first shot from deep. However, unlike previous games where she had seemingly lost confidence in her shot after a miss, Scalia let another shot go from deep later in the first quarter, this time hitting it.

The next trip down the court, Scalia made another, then continued knocking down shots once she reentered the game in the second quarter. By halftime she had 12 points, good for second on the team and already her highest mark since December.

In the second half, Scalia kept shooting and making contributions outside of points as the Hoosiers continued to protect their lead against Wolverine runs.

“I think we all saw a game like this for Sara coming because we see how she shoots the ball and how she plays in practice and how hard she works outside of practice on her shot,” senior forward Mackenzie Holmes said. “So we knew it was just a matter of time before they started falling in games.”

By the end of the game, Scalia had a season-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting including 3-of-5 from deep to help lead Indiana to a 92-83 win over another ranked opponent.

Scalia said she didn’t do anything different to help her have a bounce back game. She just stayed confident in her shot and trusted her teammates’ belief in her.

“I just continue to put in the work and continue to keep shooting, getting reps in practice and stuff to be able to be confident to hit my shots in a game like this,” Scalia said. “So, I mean, nothing really changed, just continuing to keep shooting and working on my game.”

With the win, Scalia and Indiana improve to 18-1, the best start in program history. They will look to build upon that mark when No. 2 Ohio State comes to Bloomington for another top-10 matchup at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

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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