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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

Sara Scalia to face former team as No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball travels to Minnesota

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For the past three seasons, guard Sara Scalia was a mainstay in Williams Arena in Minneapolis as an anchor for Minnesota women’s basketball. This week, she’ll be back at The Barn again, but this time as a visitor. Scalia transferred to Indiana last offseason and will look to help the Hoosiers protect their No. 4 ranking when she faces her former team for the first time Wednesday. 

A three-star recruit from Stillwater, Minnesota, Scalia chose to stay and play for her hometown Golden Gophers rather than joining a team with more recent success. 

Upon her introduction in Minnesota in 2019, Scalia immediately made an impact. In her first college season, she started all but one game, played the second-most minutes on the team and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshmen Team. However, despite her performance as a freshman, Minnesota finished 16-15 and was outside the NCAA Tournament before it was cancelled due to COVID-19. 

As Scalia continued improving over the next couple seasons, Minnesota continued to struggle as a team. By her junior year, Scalia led the team in points, minutes and defensive rebounds while establishing herself as one of the conference’s leading 3-point shooters. Her play earned her Second Team All-Big Ten honors, but Minnesota still had to settle for the WNIT in postseason play. 

After three years as the best player on a middling Big Ten team, Scalia entered her name into the transfer portal after the 2021-22 season ended and Indiana head coach Teri Moren immediately began making a push to recruit her. 

Just two weeks after she had entered the portal — and two months after she had hit seven 3-pointers in a loss to Indiana in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall — Scalia announced her decision to join the Hoosiers. 

"We're excited certainly about her firepower,” Moren said at Indiana’s media day after Scalia joined the team. “A year ago, she was one of the best three-point shooters in the country, so I think she's going to fit in really well with our ability to find her.” 

To start the season, Scalia was in Indiana’s starting lineup and was one of the primary offensive contributors on the roster, averaging 13 points on 37% shooting from 3-point range while also averaging nearly four rebounds. 

“A big thing coming into this program is just how much everyone wants to win and be on the same page and play together,” Scalia said in November. “And then, honestly — just the work ethic all-around of all the players — there’s really not a possession we take off.” 

However, after hitting four 3-pointers and playing 40 minutes against then-No. 6 University of North Carolina on Dec. 1, Scalia has largely struggled and has shot just 22% from deep since then. She also fell out of the starting lineup when graduate guard Grace Berger returned from her injury, moving Scalia to the sixth-woman role for the first time in her career. 

Although her performance this season has been inconsistent — particularly her shooting — Scalia has proved she brings more value than just a deep threat. 

“In spite of her having a little bit of a shooting drought, she's been able to still impact the game,” Moren said after the Michigan game on Jan. 23. “We've challenged her to find other ways and she's really done a great job defensively and that's not something that she's accustomed to, because at Minnesota she was asked to score so much.” 

While Scalia had a bounce-back performance in the win over Michigan — scoring 19 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep — it was her only game scoring double figures since Dec. 18. 

[Related: Sara Scalia’s bounce-back game leads No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball past No. 13 Michigan

Facing her old team on her old home court, Indiana fans will be hoping for a vintage Scalia game to help the cream and crimson to a win over the struggling Gophers. 

Without last year’s leader, Minnesota is 9-12 overall this season and just 2-8 in Big Ten games, with both wins coming against Penn State. This year’s team features a balanced scoring attack, as all five starters average between 9.5 and 15 points per game. 

Replacing Scalia as the team’s leading scorer is freshman guard Mara Braun, who has been honored as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice this season. Only three other conference players have received multiple Freshman of the Week nods this year, one of which is Indiana guard Yarden Garzon. 

Minnesota has also struggled mightily shooting the ball from deep this season without Scalia. In its ten Big Ten games, the team has a 3-point percentage of just 25%, which ranks dead last in the conference. 

If Scalia and the Hoosiers can knock down their shots while also preventing the Golden Gophers from getting hot beyond the arc, Indiana should have little difficulty getting the conference win on the road. 

Scalia’s return to Minneapolis tips off at 8 p.m. Wednesday and will be televised on BTN+. 

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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