Entering Sunday’s matchup against No. 15 Stanford University, No. 9 Indiana women’s basketball had an opportunity to begin working on its NCAA Tournament resume with a road win against a historic program. Despite capitalizing on a similar occasion in 2022-23 against the University of Tennessee, the Hoosiers were unable to do the same, losing 96-64 to the Cardinal.
Before the regular season began, Indiana head coach Teri Moren expressed her concerns regarding the Hoosiers’ defense after allowing Northwood University to score 68 points. Fast forward to Nov. 9 and Indiana gave up 43 points to Eastern Illinois University. Although Moren explained she reminded her squad of “how much better” they have to be defensively, the Hoosiers allowed 96 points Sunday.
“They got off to a hot start,” Moren said postgame. “That was their run and now we needed to come back and make our own stance and have our own run. They kept knocking down shots.”
Not only did the Cardinal knock down shots, but they nailed 3-pointer after 3-pointer after 3-pointer. Led by senior forward Cameron Brink and junior guard Elena Bosgana who went a combined 4-for-4 from beyond the arc, Stanford drilled six 3-pointers in the first quarter — one more than Indiana did in the entire game.
While they led by 11 after the opening quarter, the Cardinal blew the game open in the second frame. Junior forward Kiki Iriafen tallied 12 points on 5-for-6 from the field alongside a pair of free throws and five rebounds.
“Kiki has made tremendous improvements from just watching them on film a year ago,” Moren said. “She’s skilled, not only can she play with her back to the basket and use her physicality but now her ability to knock down jumpers from the high post. Put it on the deck, I mean all of that she’s turned into a really nice player.”
Despite the matchup between the pair of preseason AP All-Americans in graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes and Brink making national headlines, the latter outdueled the former. Brink totaled 20 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks, but also tallied a game-high five turnovers.
Moren explained Nov. 9 that she believed the game wouldn’t be about Holmes against Brink, but more so about the other four matchups on the floor. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they effectively lost all of those matchups as the Cardinal had five scorers in double figures compared to the Hoosiers’ three.
Although Indiana faced a 28-point deficit at halftime that proved to be insurmountable, the Hoosiers didn’t go away from their game plan — Moren felt they just needed to be better in it.
“I think the other adjustment we were trying to do offensively was just trying to generate some offense, and I thought we looked better in the second half,” Moren said. “I thought we looked more settled in.”
While they may have settled in and been outscored by just 4 points in the second half, the loss may provide added value considering the Hoosiers are coming off a season in which they lost four games by 12 total points.
“I know I’ve never lost by 40-something points ever in my life and I don’t think a lot of the girls on the team have,” senior guard Sydney Parrish said. “Coach was saying this might be a blessing in disguise and widens our eyes a little bit and realizes like, hey, we have a number by our name, but we’ve got to bring it everywhere we go, whether it’s at home or when we’re in Florida playing another team with two bigs like Tennessee. We have to be better.”
Although a 32-point loss is likely not what Indiana had in mind when it arrived in Palo Alto, California, the loss likely taught the squad a valuable lesson that they can carry throughout the season.
“They punched us right from the start,” Moren said. “We didn’t respond in the right way. We didn’t, but it’s a lesson learned that it’s a long game and you have to make the next right step. It took us a while to make the next right step.”
Indiana will now turn its attention toward Murray State University at 7 p.m. Friday and Lipscomb University at 2 p.m. Sunday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall — both streaming on Big Ten+. While they may have nearly a week-and-a-half-long break from high-major competition, Sunday’s lackluster showing against Stanford should give the Hoosiers a baseline as to where they stand at the beginning of the season.
“Really it was just a good old-fashioned butt-kicking,” Moren said. “That’s what it looked like.”