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Sunday, May 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

COLUMN: No, you shouldn’t be worried about Indiana women’s basketball’s loss to Iowa

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IOWA CITY — Imagine being Chloe Moore-McNeil. Down 2 points with 34 seconds left, on the road against the No. 6 team in the nation with upwards of 15,000 fans bearing down on you amid your free throws.  

The junior guard, who recorded a season high 18 points in No. 2 Indiana women’s basketball’s 86-85 loss to Iowa on Sunday, sunk both to knot the game at 83. Now imagine being senior forward Mackenzie Holmes.  

The focal point of a national powerhouse, at the line with 1.5 seconds and a chance to propel the Hoosiers ahead. Yet again, with a ruthlessly raucous Carver-Hawkeye Arena seemingly caving in on you.  

Like Moore-McNeil, Holmes delivered. The Hoosiers shot 16-17 — 94% — from the line, a distinct sign of the team’s maturity and experience. Despite falling into a handful of holes, namely conceding a 10-0 run in the first quarter, the Hoosiers never wavered.  

At points where Indiana looked completely dead in the water and shellshocked by the Hawkeyes’ explosive offensive attack, someone always stepped up to weather the storm and spark a run.

On Sunday afternoon, graduate guard Grace Berger and junior guard Sydney Parrish often found answers. Parrish finished with 18 points, the bulk of which coming in the second half, and Berger notched 16 to go along with eight assists.  

Parrish was on a mission down the stretch. From logo threes to toughly contested layups, the Fishers, Indiana native was clearly set on making a statement in the regular season finale. She wasn’t going to be denied.

The always fiery Berger wasn’t going to accept defeat, either. She was a maestro with the ball in her hands, slicing through the heart of Iowa’s defense and knocking down jumper after jumper. When Berger shows emotion, be it frustration or excitement, you know the moment mattered.  

After Berger turned the ball over roughly midway through the fourth quarter, she slapped her hands on the floor repeatedly, irate at either herself for losing the ball or the lack of a foul call. The latter seemed more apparent.  

Head coach Teri Moren blitzed toward halfcourt to plead with an official — a common occurrence for both Moren and Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder throughout the game. By now, I assume everyone knows the deal with Big Ten referees and their inconsistencies.  

If you’re hoping for some respite anytime soon, I regret to inform you that the Big Ten Tournament still has to be played next weekend. So, I guess get comfortable with arbitrary makeup calls and largely inaccurate officiating on big stages. 

Regardless, lopsided foul numbers aren’t what lost Indiana the game. Sure, Iowa junior guard Caitlin Clark couldn’t be touched without the National Guard considering intervening, but the Hoosiers had their chance to escape with a win. 

Now, go back to the final seconds. You’ve just watched Holmes drill back-to-back free throws in ice cold fashion. Bluder calls a timeout, and there’s some time for a refresher of the defensive gameplan. 

Everyone knew where the inbound pass was headed, right? As Clark slithers around the screen from fifth-year center Monika Czinano, Moore-McNeil takes a fall. Clark was her assignment.  

The likely National Player of the Year began to receive the pass, and you probably knew the Hoosiers’ fate then and there. Droves of black and yellow-clad Iowans rise to their feet, display threes on both hands and prepare to go crazy.  

Then, it falls. On the Hawkeyes’ senior day — with the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament hanging in the balance — Clark drilled a shot she said she has practiced countless times before. All you can do is stare at the euphoric madness sweeping the floor and give Clark some kudos.

The fashion of the defeat made it seem a whole lot worse than it actually was. While the Hoosiers haven’t quite been accustomed to that thing known as losing this season, they already had the No. 1 seed for the B1G Tournament locked up, and all but certainly a No. 1 seed for March Madness, as well.  

It’s a game Indiana really wanted to win, sure. Iowa has become a clear rival at this point, and perhaps no win all year would’ve been sweeter than knocking off the Hawkeyes on their home court.  

Sometimes basketball isn’t fair. The Hoosiers could’ve won that game, and probably should have, but they didn’t. Now, the regular season is over, and Indiana very well could meet Iowa next weekend in the conference tournament championship.  

Most importantly, don’t lose sleep over this loss or let it dissuade you from the bigger picture. The Hoosiers are the same dominant group that took down ranked teams like dominoes over the last month.  

With the odds stacked against Indiana all afternoon, it found a way to be just 1.5 seconds away from victory. The ending may have stung a little, but there’s a long road ahead. For that, I’d be excited. 

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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