Indiana women’s basketball was back in action Friday as it took on the Racers of Murray State University, members of the Missouri Valley Conference. After a big loss to then-No. 15 Stanford University Nov. 12, Indiana needed to bounce back from that reality check in Palo Alto, California. The Hoosiers got the win in a displeasing fashion.
The game finished with an Indiana victory, 112-79, that featured six Hoosiers scoring double figures. Indiana regained its offensive groove that went away Nov. 12.
Fifth-year senior guard Sara Scalia led Indiana in points with 22 and had three assists and four rebounds. All-American graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes was not far behind with 20 points, 10 boards and three assists, her first double-double of the young season. A good chunk of Holmes’ buckets tallied up Indiana's 64 points in the paint.
Indiana made the shots they needed to when Murray State started to inch back. Senior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil bounced back with six-of-nine shooting and 14 points, and sophomore guard Yarden Garzon scored 14 points in just 21 minutes.
Sophomore guard Lexus Bargesser played 24 minutes and put up 12 points. That 24 was a career-high in minutes due to senior guard Sydney Parrish’s hamstring injury, Moren said. The sixth Hoosier in double-figures was sophomore forward Lilly Mesiter with 12 points on six-for-seven shooting.
Murray State found itself in the same shoes Indiana was in when the Hoosiers took on Stanford. Friday night, Indiana came out of the gates hot, a lot like the Cardinal did in the first quarter. Offensively that set the tone well for the Hoosiers. Indiana stretched the first quarter lead to 17 points with a score of 24-7 and the Hoosiers scoring on six of their first seven possessions.
In the game against Stanford, Indiana head coach Teri Moren said the Hoosiers were trying to get most of their points back in bunches, and that was how the Racers played Indiana on Friday evening. The Racers took bad shots from both two and 3-point range. MSU hoisted a whopping 34 3-pointers and more than half of them came in the first half — the total at the half was 19 shots with five makes. The Racers finished 29-of-71 from the floor.
Moren praised the team's offensive performance postgame, but she voiced heavy displeasure about their defense. Moren gave her team’s defensive performance a C.
“We lack communication right now, we lack an urgency, we lack just being aggressive, and it’s been frustrating,” Moren said. “And we as a staff have to figure it out. I gotta figure out how I can get the best of them on the defensive side of the ball.”
Moore-McNeil gave the team a wakeup call about their defensive performance after the game in Palo Alto. Moren was very vocal about the senior’s toughness and leadership.
“Chloe called her team out the other day when we returned and used the word soft,” Moren said. “We need all of them to have that level of toughness, and so we will keep teaching it, we’ll keep preaching it, we’ll keep reminding them, that’s what’s required.”
The next chapter of the Hooisers’ 2023-24 season will be written Sunday as they take on Lipscomb University at 2 p.m. on Big Ten+.
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.