WEST LAFAYETTE — No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball defeated Purdue 69-46 in front of a sold-out Mackey Arena on Thursday — its 12th win in the last 13 meetings between the rivals.
The win did not come easily for the Hoosiers, however, as the Boilermakers established their defensive identity early: stop Indiana senior forward Mackenzie Holmes at all costs.
Any time Indiana got into the half court and tried to run its offense, Purdue denied Holmes every entry pass that was thrown, and whenever Indiana did manage to get Holmes the ball, multiple defenders swarmed the paint to make sure she didn’t get a clean look.
Through the first half, that defensive philosophy worked for Purdue; Holmes only scored 2 points and was largely a non-factor on the offensive end. Her only points came on a wide-open fast break layup and she only got a single shot attempt off when Indiana was running its half-court offense. When Holmes did get a touch in the first two quarters, she was forced to quickly pass it back out.
Because so much emphasis was placed on Holmes and the paint by the Boilermaker’s defense, the Hoosiers’ guards and wings were able to find space of their own for open shots from deep and mid-range.
In particular, it was junior guards Sydney Parrish and Chloe Moore-McNeil who shouldered the offensive load in the first half. Moore-McNeil got the Hoosiers on the board with a triple to start the game and the pair accounted for all of Indiana’s first 10 points in the game, capitalizing on the space created by Purdue’s focus on Holmes.
“(Purdue) tried to clog it in and double Mack and I thought Chloe did a tremendous job of handling herself,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “Not just hitting the threes but also taking opportunities to attack as well.”
While Moore-McNeil and Parrish got Indiana an early lead and were able to keep pace with Purdue, the lack of production from Holmes prevented the Hoosiers from building a substantial advantage and they entered the halftime break leading 31-26.
Moore-McNeil and Parrish scored 20 of their combined 28 points in the first half and after the game, Parrish said she personally wanted to make an impact in the matchup as the only player from the state of Indiana on the Hoosiers’ roster.
“I was really excited to be a part of the rivalry this year since I wasn't able to last two years,” the Oregon transfer said. “But I think it was a little bit more personal this year just because I am the only Indiana kid on this team. So I had to kind of step up and be that person on our team to show who the best team in Indiana is.”
Coming out of the tunnel in the second half, Indiana established a different tone. On the second offensive possession of the half, the team worked the ball into Holmes, who quickly put up a hook shot to give Indiana its first points of the half.
On their next possession, the Hoosiers went back to Holmes in the post, who again threw a post move to make space for another successful layup. The next time down the court, Holmes did it again to score 6 straight points in two minutes after scoring just 2 points in the previous 20 minutes.
A couple possessions later, Moore-McNeil drove the lane, drew the defense and fired a pass to Holmes standing beyond the arc. Rather than passing it around or trying to drive it herself, Holmes pulled up and knocked down a 3-pointer — just the second made triple of her season.
With smothering team defense and Holmes making an impact on offense, the Hoosiers won the third quarter 19-2 to take a 22 point lead and put away their rivals from West Lafayette.
Moren complimented the decision-making of her star post after the game, saying that in the past, Holmes might have tried to force plays against the double-team.
“It's Mack just making decisions — the right decision,” Moren said. “Whether that was to throw that thing out and generate some energy behind the ball with our guards or be able to do Mack-like things which is spin with her great footwork, her soft hands. Whether it's baseline, whether it's middle, just finding different ways.”
Purdue kept fighting in the final frame, scoring 18 points in the fourth — its highest-scoring quarter of the day — but was unable to seriously challenge Indiana’s lead. When the final buzzer sounded, Indiana won the game 69-46, eliciting cheers and chants from the Hoosier fans who had made the trip into enemy territory.
The Hoosiers improve to 22-1 overall and 12-1 in conference games with the win. Indiana will face its next test when the Iowa Hawkeyes come to Bloomington on Thursday for a battle for the lead in the Big Ten standings.