Though Indiana women's basketball defeated Lipscomb University 77-44 on Sunday, their defensive performance is still far from perfect.
While the main takeaway from their Friday game against Murray State University was defensive inefficiency, the Hoosiers made great strides Sunday.
For a good chunk of the first half, the Hoosiers didn’t look like themselves, as they usually take care of non-conference foes early.
Right out of the gate, the Hoosiers struggled with turnovers, with seven in just the first quarter. Indiana was only up six at the end of the first quarter but finished the first half on a 24-4 run. The Hoosiers went into the locker room after putting up their lowest scoring home half of the season with a 39-18 lead.
Once Indiana really got rolling, it was the usual suspects that stood out for the Hoosiers.
The game’s biggest scoring performance was from fifth year senior guard Sara Scalia who finished with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. Scalia lit it up from 3-point range, finishing five-of-seven from beyond the arc.
“I think a big thing is being more aggressive, more of an all-around player, rather than being just a 3-point shooter,” Scalia said postgame. “And obviously I’ve had to step into a bigger role this year, for sure and coach said what she needs out of me is to be more aggressive, make the right reads and hit my shots when I’m open.”
Indiana head coach Teri Moren said Scalia is playing with more confidence. Moren also said she wants to keep getting Scalia the ball when hot.
“I think she is setting herself up to have a really special senior year here at Indiana,” Moren said postgame.
In addition to Scalia, graduate student forward and pre-season AP All-American Mackenzie Holmes finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Simply, Mack doing Mack things. These past two games have been big for Holmes to get back into her groove after seemingly losing it against Stanford University on Nov. 12.
Though the past games have received shaky remarks from Moren regarding the team’s defensive tendencies, this afternoon gave Moren some good things to say.
“A little bit better tonight, defensively, from our group,” Moren said.
The goal for the Hoosiers was to keep Lipscomb under 60 points, Moren said, and they did so with 16 points of breathing room.
Moren’s criticisms stem from the Hoosiers’ (in)ability to guard the three. Moren went back to the letter grade scale and gave Indiana a B, an improvement from the C after the Murray State game.
Some other improvements for the Hoosiers came from the field this Sunday. Indiana has had back-to-back promising performances shooting the ball after the atrocity Nov. 12 in Palo Alto, California. The Hoosiers shot 45% from three-point range, the highest tally from that range this season.
Still, the game revealed potential troubles for Indiana when senior guard Sydney Parrish re-aggravated a hamstring injury she suffered Friday. Moren said Parrish is fine but explained that a hamstring injury is an injury that can linger.
“Syd is a kid that’ll gut anything out,” Moren said.
Looking ahead to Thursday, a game against the University of Tennessee looms in Fort Myers, Florida. However, Moren did not shy away from the task of another “double big” offense.
So how does Indiana get defensive success against those double bigs? Well, something they did not do well against Stanford was choosing when to double and forcing open shooters from long range. Indiana needs to do a better job of communicating and reacting when Tennessee gets the ball down into their double bigs. Another thing that Indiana needs to do defensively is limit second chance points, especially when it comes to holding onto defensive rebounds and boxing out. Offensively, the Hoosiers need to shoot better from the field and limit turnovers, especially travels and charges.
“It will be all of us,” Moren said. “We will have to pack a lot of defense for that trip.”
It will be a great test for the Hoosiers looking to get back into the national spotlight after dropping their first top 15 matchup of the season.
The contest against Tennessee will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday on FOX.
Follow reporters Dalton James (@DaltonMJames) and Quinn Richards (@Quinn_richa), columnist Ryan Canfield (@_ryancanfield) and photographer Olivia Bianco (@theoliviabianco) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s basketball season.