In one of the biggest regular season matchups in Indiana women’s basketball history, it’s only fitting that the two faces of the program shone the brightest. Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes and graduate guard Grace Berger provided high-level performances to lead the No. 2 Hoosiers over No. 5 Iowa.
“I thought Grace and Mackenzie were obviously so good offensively,” head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “I knew (Berger) wanted to lead us throughout 40 minutes, and I thought Mack has played so well for us all season long and was really good.”
The Hoosiers threw the first punch, as Holmes popped a mid-range jumper then hit one of two free throws, and junior forward Sydney Parrish converted a steal for a fastbreak layup for a quick 5-0 start. However, Iowa quickly responded. Fifth-year center Monika Czinano made a layup and junior guard Caitlin Clark made two deep 3-pointers to give the Hawkeyes an 8-0 run.
The two squads exchanged buckets throughout the first quarter. Berger sliced her way into the paint for three layups, and the Hoosiers forced seven turnovers in the period; however, the Hawkeyes dominated the rebounds with a 15-8 advantage. By the end of the frame the score was knotted at 19 apiece.
The contest remained tight in the second quarter as neither team could gain more than a 4-point advantage. Indiana made eight free throws and Iowa dominated the paint in the period, scoring 16 of its 20 points from the inside.
Clark’s scoring was limited to 5 points in the 10-minute frame, but she used the extra defensive attention to her advantage by facilitating, earning 5 assists. Holmes ended the half with an acrobatic and-1 for her seventh point of the period, tying the game at 39 at halftime.
The third quarter was a display of stars, as Clark, Berger and Holmes all took over the game. Clark struck first on a step-back jumper, but Berger ripped off a personal 6-0 run, stealing a pass from Clark and scoring a layup, connecting on two free throws and getting another transition bucket to put the Hoosiers up 4.
The Hawkeyes fought back to take the lead, and Clark and Berger continued to exchange scores. Holmes got in on the action, taking advantage of Czinano’s foul trouble and controlling the paint.
Clark scored 13 of Iowa’s 18 points in the quarter, and Holmes (8) and Berger (12) combined for 20 of Indiana’s 23 points. A jumper by Berger gave the Hoosiers a 5-point lead heading into the fourth frame, the largest lead by either team since Iowa led 13-7 at the 6:06 mark of the first period.
The Hawkeyes immediately tied things up to start the fourth, but an Indiana 7-0 scoring run put the Hoosiers ahead for good. Freshman guard Yarden Garzon stepped up, knocking down two triples and a layup for her only 8 points of the game, and Berger remained steady handling the ball to close things out for Indiana.
“I think there’s really no reason to panic,” Berger said. “We’ve been in those moments before, and we know what we have to do.”
Berger’s performance was her most complete of the season: a season-high 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Holmes added 24 points, six rebounds and four steals. Indiana’s star duo again delivered when the Hoosiers needed it the most.
“I think it’s just reading what the defense gives us. Grace was really aggressive tonight getting a lot of good looks to the rim and then my teammates were finding me inside,” Holmes said. “We have so many pieces that are able to go off for those numbers, so I think it was just working for Grace and I tonight.”
Clark scored 35 points and distributed 10 assists but did so on 12-28 shooting along with eight turnovers. Junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil played 37 minutes as the primary defender against Clark.
After going 0-3 against the Hawkeyes last season, including a loss in the Big Ten Championship, Indiana finally got over the hump, its first win over Iowa since Mar. 3, 2021. For Moren and the Hoosiers, last season’s sweep was an extra incentive.
“We came up short three times to Iowa last year, and I think that for some of our returners that stuck with them,” Moren said. “I felt that tonight, especially Grace and Mackenzie, they really wanted to play well in order to help their team win. And they followed the game plan just as we would have liked.”
The 9-point win marks Indiana’s 11th straight win and gives the Hoosiers a one-and-a-half-game lead in the Big Ten standings. Following the game, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee announced its top-16 seed projections, in which Indiana was named a No. 1 seed, the second-overall team.
Next up for Indiana is a road trip to Columbus to face No. 13 Ohio State for the second time this season. The Hoosiers defeated the Buckeyes 78-65 in Bloomington on Jan. 26.