We know they’re phenomenal. I don’t think I really need to reiterate that anymore.
But No. 2 Indiana women’s basketball reached a gear against No. 13 Ohio State Monday night that might’ve taken its most ardent supporters by surprise. By halftime, senior forward Mackenzie Holmes and senior guard Sara Scalia led the Buckeyes 35-29.
For the casual basketball fans, there are five players on the court for each team. So, suffice to say the Hoosiers had a pretty good 20 minutes of play. Truthfully, it was about as perfect a half from an offensive standpoint that I’ve ever seen.
Scalia launched six threes and converted five of them, Holmes was 9-of-11 and the Hoosiers shot a combined 74%. It was almost laughable. Buckeye defenders were left hopelessly flailing their arms in the air as the Hoosiers converted one bucket after another.
The Hoosiers’ offense has become such a machine that Indiana men’s basketball head coach Mike Woodson is now borrowing plays from them. Unsurprisingly, both teams executed with precision, resulting in an easy 2 points.
Remember, this was a game on the road. In the Big Ten, that’s never a given. By the way, I can’t stress enough that Ohio State is a legit team with some of the best talent in the conference, and arguably one of the country’s top freshmen in Cotie McMahon.
I’m not sure any team could’ve stopped Indiana in the first two periods. You could’ve stuck a 10-foot wall in front of Scalia and I’m fairly certain she still would’ve sunk a handful of triples. When the Hoosiers are on, they very well might be the nation’s premier squad.
When they’re not, use the first seven minutes of the third quarter as a reference. Courtesy of ridiculous shots from senior guard Taylor Mikesell and McMahon, the Buckeyes rattled off a 15-2 run and made things at least a little interesting.
If you didn’t cherish those few minutes, you missed about the only competitive basketball of the night. Scalia and Holmes remedied a woeful start to the second half, the former slicing and dicing to her Indiana career-high 24 points, and the latter recording a career high of her own with 33.
When your team’s sixth woman can go off at any moment and light it up from deep, you’re in a pretty good spot.
For the second time this season, Ohio State’s attempts to suffocate the Hoosiers with a full-court press proved futile. From freshman guard Yarden Garzon easily walking into a 3-pointer to quick buckets for Holmes, Indiana got everything it wanted in transition.
I’ve somehow made it this far without mentioning a savvy 16 points from graduate guard Grace Berger — including a 3-pointer from the parking lot. Her midrange game is back in full force, providing yet another lethal option on the offensive end.
Indiana’s performances from the first half to the third quarter were about as polar opposite as can be. Judging by the good, I believe the Hoosiers have the potential to run with any team thrown their way. Going off the bad, well, I’m just going to chalk that up to sleepwalking with a big lead.
In all seriousness, there’s absolutely no reason to believe a short blip was indicative of anything beyond that. You know when hiccups spring out of nowhere, your chest hurts for a bit and then you’re completely fine? That was basically Indiana on Monday night.
I am curious, however, if we’ve seen the best from the Hoosiers yet. Seemingly every game they find a new way to one-up themselves. First, they took down then No. 2 Ohio State with a 27-6 third quarter massacre. They then beat down then No. 5 Iowa thanks to 50 points from Berger and Holmes.
Now? A 24-point win against the Buckeyes on the road in a game that was essentially only close at tipoff. There’s not a whole lot else to say about the victory, aside from the important note that head coach Teri Moren now has the longest winning streak in her Indiana tenure with 12.
Looking ahead, the Hoosiers are in a highly favorable position to earn at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title. They’ll be taking things a game at a time, and Moren can’t emphasize that enough, but March is creeping closer and closer.