Indiana Daily Student

No. 2 Indiana women’s basketball continues streak with domination of No. 12 Michigan

<p>Graduate guard Grace Berger works to stop a pass against Michigan on Feb. 16, 2023, at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The Hoosiers beat the Wolverines 68-52.</p>

Graduate guard Grace Berger works to stop a pass against Michigan on Feb. 16, 2023, at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The Hoosiers beat the Wolverines 68-52.

No. 2 Indiana women’s basketball notched its ninth ranked win of the season, beating No. 12 Michigan 68-52 on Thursday in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

The game followed the same straightforward pattern as most recent Hoosiers wins: jump out to an early lead in the beginning and never give it up the rest of the way. While the blueprint may be straightforward, holding onto that lead against the No. 12-ranked team in the nation did not come easily for the Hoosiers.

Both teams started fast, with the Wolverines taking a slight 9-8 advantage three minutes and 35 seconds into the game. That one-point margin would be the visitors largest lead of the game, however, as the Hoosiers took no time to respond in force.

A few Michigan possessions later, Indiana graduate guard Grace Berger stole the ball and quickly fired an outlet pass to junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil running down the court. Without taking a dribble, Moore-McNeil instantly sent the ball into Holmes before the Michigan transition defense could recover, allowing Holmes to quickly make the shot through the foul.

Holmes converted the and-1, and the Hoosiers got another stop, allowing the normally pass-first Moore-McNeil to find space beyond the arc pull up early in the shot clock herself. Moore-McNeil splashed the open jumper to cap off the stretch and bring the Hoosier crowd to its feet, forcing the Wolverines to burn an early timeout.

The 10-0 run took just 60 seconds of game clock but fully swung momentum in favor of the home team.

“It was 8-8 and then it was 9-8 and then it was 18-9,” Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico said after the game. “So, I just think they can score in bunches, and we watched it the other night versus Ohio State, and we watched it the first time that we played them. There’s a reason that they’re the number two, and I saw it the first time that we played against them.”

Although Michigan never again reclaimed the lead, it refused to give up the game without a fight and immediately responded to the Indiana run by cutting the lead a single possession on its first play of the second quarter.

The Hoosiers again came back though, turning to their veteran leader Grace Berger to wrestle back control of the game. Across a nearly six-minute span in the second quarter, the Hoosiers outscored the Wolverines 12-0 with Berger scoring or assisting on 10 of those points.

The run gave Indiana a 15-point advantage on the scoreboard, and Michigan never again cut the deficit to single digits.

Coming out of the second half, Michigan was unable to seriously challenge Indiana’s lead and, after a final push at the fourth quarter, succumbed to the swarming defense of the hosts.

After the first matchup between these teams on Jan. 23 ended with a 92-83 Indiana win, Thursday’s matchup much more closely followed the billing of the top two defensive teams in the Big Ten going head-to-head with a 68-52 final score.

“Last game was a little bit faster pace,” Holmes said. “We knew we had to lock in on defense, and I thought we did a lot better job of that — guarding their actions, guarding one on one, getting stops, getting rebounds. So, I think it was just the flow of the game was a little bit different.”

Holmes was instrumental in the defensive showcase, registering five blocks —which moved her into second-most in program history — to go along with her game-high 27 points. Moore-McNeil, the do it all wing, was Indiana’s only other player in double figures with 13 points. Although all 5 of Berger’s points came during the second quarter run, she was still instrumental in Indiana’s offensive success and finished with a game-high six assists — moving her into second place all-time in career assists for the program.

[Related: Mackenzie Holmes moves into second on Indiana women’s basketball all-time blocks list]

With the win, Indiana and the pair of program legends in Holmes and Berger are now 25-1 overall — setting yet another program record, this one for wins in a season. Indiana also improved to 15-1 in conference, staying atop the standings and leaving the team just one win away from capturing a share of the Big Ten regular season title.

The team will have its first of two remaining chances to get that win this weekend, when rival Purdue will come to Bloomington to face Indiana in a sold-out Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at noon on Sunday.

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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