The defending Big Ten champion Indiana women’s basketball took the floor for its first official game of the 2023-24 season. Indiana welcomed the Eastern Illinois University Panthers of the Ohio Valley Conference to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and looked good doing it. The 96-43 Hoosier win marked the 400th victory in the career of head coach Teri Moren.
The Hoosiers and Panthers went back and forth, scoring on each of their first couple possessions, but by the end of the first quarter the defending Big Ten champs enforced their will on EIU and Indiana did what they do best. More specifically, the Hoosiers scored at an insanely high rate, doing so selflessly, and played near-perfect defense by holding the Panthers to 43 points in a total of the full 40 minutes.
The Hoosiers shot 43-of-66 from the floor and their selfless offense racked up 26 assists.
Graduate forward Mackenzie Holmes scored 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting while grabbing six boards, dropping two dimes and sending back four Panther shots.
Yarden Garzon took a huge step in the right direction in terms of three-level scoring .Garzon went 7-of-10 from the field, all from inside the arc and a couple with her back facing the basket — one of the key aspects of Garzon’s development. Garzon also rammed into the lane and took on that Grace Berger-type role, in the early part of that game. In the the late-stage moments of the game, the Grace Berger look-a-like was Lexus Bargesser.
Despite the experience and talent of Indiana’s starters, there were hopes the second unit for IU would see meaningful minutes, and that is exactly what happened. The IU bench in relief of the starters in both halves stepped up and gained some quality experience.
Bargesser was the first notable member. She played 23 minutes and put up a stellar 15 points off the bench — four of those 15 being buzzer beaters to finish the first and third quarters.
“Being able to come out in the first game and do that gave me a ton of confidence but it also helps that I am so confident in my teammates too,” Bargesser said.
Names like sophomore forward Lilly Meister, whose final stat line showed 6 points and a rebound, Lenée Beaumont, who had 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting and two assists, and Henna Sandvik — who contributed 5 points, four assists and three boards, also played double digit minutes.
The performances previously mentioned took the spotlight off the full-time starting debut of Sara Scalia. Scalia lived up to lofty expectations with 13 points, nine of them coming from three-point range in just 18 minutes on the floor.
In the postgame presser, the one critique Teri Moren had was free throws. Indiana was just 2-of-11 from the charity stripe.
“As I said to them when they congratulated me on my 400th win, we get to shoot 400 free throws tomorrow,” Moren said.
When asked, Moren said she looks forward to giving the promising but in-experienced bench more minutes.
“They need to get real experience,” Moren said. "You remind them when you are in timeouts like, you aren’t playing the scoreboard, these are really important minutes.”
For the No. 9 Hoosiers, a win like tonight is great, especially for Moren racking up her 400th career win, but the turnaround in high-level women’s college basketball is quick.
On Sunday the Hoosiers head to Palo Alto, California, to take on No. 15 Stanford University, coached by former Hoosier Tara Vandeveer. The game will be available on ESPN at 5 p.m.
Follow reporters Dalton James (@DaltonMJames) and Quinn Richards (@Quinn_richa), columnist Ryan Canfield (@rpcvsthewrld) and photographer Olivia Bianco (@theoliviabianco) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s basketball season.