WEST LAFAYETTE — Rivalry games are what sports are all about: intensity, physicality and the requirement for each side to bring its best. Junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil was no stranger to this phenomenon last season, and she again provided an impactful performance to help push No. 4 Indiana women’s basketball past in-state rival Purdue, 69-46.
“I try to bring my A-game every single game,” Moore-McNeil said after the game. “We know this is a big rivalry, but we come in with the same plan every time to play hard, no matter who it is.”
Last season, Moore-McNeil played two of the best games of her season against the Boilermakers. She played 43 minutes to help a short-handed Indiana win an overtime contest at Mackey Arena in one of just two starts of her season, then posted her first career double-double off the bench to complete the season sweep of Purdue.
Sunday afternoon, Moore-McNeil set the tone early on both ends of the floor. She grabbed the first rebound of the game on the defensive end, then drilled a corner three for the game’s first points. Back on the defensive end, she swiped two steals on Purdue’s next three possessions.
While the 3-pointer earned her only points of the first frame, Moore-McNeil assisted on another long ball from junior guard Sydney Parrish and continued her pesky defensive efforts. She finished the quarter with four steals and Indiana led 14-10.
The Boilermakers came out firing in the second period, ramping off a 7-0 run in the first two minutes and 30 seconds to give Purdue a 3-point lead. The Hoosiers had gone cold, but Moore-McNeil found an answer, connecting on back-to-back threes then driving in the lane for a layup to swing the 3-point advantage in Indiana’s favor.
“They decided to play a little off Chloe to try to clog it in on Mack, and I thought she did a tremendous job of handling herself, not just hitting the threes but taking opportunities to attack as well,” head coach Teri Moren said. “I’m really proud of the way she handled herself.”
She crashed the boards for three rebounds in the period, and a jumper in the paint to close out the half concluded her 10-point quarter and extended Indiana’s lead to 5 points heading into halftime. Having scored just 17 team points in the quarter, Moore-McNeil seemingly saved the Hoosiers from falling into a deficit.
Moore-McNeil’s scoring capped out after her first-half clinic, but her impact on the game carried through the second half. She locked up senior guard Abbey Ellis — who had 10 first-half points — holding her scoreless in the second half, as well as causing havoc on the perimeter. She nabbed one steal in the third quarter, one of seven turnovers Indiana forced in the frame while holding Purdue to just 1-of-17 shooting.
“At halftime, we always just coach each other up,” Moore-McNeil said. “We just decided where we’re gonna win is getting stops defensively.”
Indiana’s dominant third period dealt the finishing blow, as the Hoosiers had an answer for any run the Boilermakers attempted in the fourth. Moore-McNeil finished with a stat line of 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, five steals and a block in the 23-point win. The stat sheet and scoreboard may show her efforts were one of several good performances from the Hoosiers, but her first half show was the primary reason Indiana was in position to make its large third quarter run.
Moore-McNeil’s outing was statistically one of her best of the season. Her five field goals made, three 3-pointers made, nine rebounds and five steals all mark season-highs, while her 13 points match her second-most of the season.
Last season’s performances were heroic from the junior guard, but her games like today against Purdue on Sunday have become expected. Having worked her way up from the bench to a crucial role this season, Moren applauded Moore-McNeil.
“Chloe has been one of our mainstays. It’s such a great story,” Moren said. “When Grace (Berger) got hurt, she was my MVP. She had to slide over there and run our team, and I think it’s benefitted her.”
Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Sebree (@mattsebree) and columnist Matt Press (@MattPress23) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s basketball season.