Just about everything went wrong for No. 9 Indiana women’s basketball while everything went right for the No. 15 Stanford University on Sunday in Palo Alto, California. The Cardinal’s height and consistency was the main problem for Indiana as the Hoosiers went down 96-64.
It was all about preseason AP All-American senior forward Cameron Brink and junior forward Kiki Iriafen for Stanford on both sides of the ball. Brink finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds, and four blocks. Alongside Brink’s impressive performance, Iriafen went for 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Dominating the Hoosiers isn’t new for the All-American. In the last meeting between the two teams, Brink went for 21 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks.
Stanford was a force on the offensive glass, on the drive to the cup, and from 3-point range. It simply did not miss. The Cardinal went 36-of-72 from the floor and hit 11 3-pointers. And when Stanford did miss, offensive rebounds were imminent, snagging 18 offensive rebounds on 36 misses.
On the Hoosiers’ offensive side, the length of the Cardinal forced Indiana to take inefficient shots. A prime example came in the middle of the second quarter when then--scoreless graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes had her back turned to the basket in post. She hoisted a turn-around jumper that ended in an ugly miss because of the wingspan and size of Brink.
With that instance in mind, it’s a good time to note that the offense — which was so effective in the first game against Eastern Illinois University — was nowhere to be found. The physicality and size of Stanford wasn’t the only problem for the Hoosiers. Indiana was 22-of-63 from the field and a disappointing and insurmountable five-of-32 from beyond the arc. Holmes was held to only eight points, all coming in the second half.
“We tried to get all of our points back in bunches. We are not a team that needs to be taking 32 threes. And that’s my fault,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said postgame.
ESPN’s Debbie Antonelli said it best on the telecast after Iriafen’s layup from pressure by senior guard Sydney Parrish about the physicality the Cardinal on offense.
“Indiana is a team that likes to play four out one in,” Antonelli said. “[Yarden] Garzon is six- foot three and she has some size but it’s tough to guard the bigs of Stanford when you don’t have the same girth.”
Indiana was down a manageable 11 to start the second quarter, but Stanford’s momentum began to build at the 7:40 mark of the quarter, with the team finishing the half on a 24-6 run. It was then that Stanford really pulled away.
“We wanted to come out and we wanted this to be an early test against a team we have a tremendous amount of respect for, I just wish we could’ve played a lot better, because we are a lot better than what we had on the floor today” Moren said.
“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 step and it took us a while to make the next right step.”
As someone who is a year removed from the Pac-12, Parrish has seen the capabilities of Stanford in her time at the University of Oregon. Parrish said the game is a valuable learning experience for the No. 9 Hoosiers as a whole.
“I know I’ve never lost by 40-something points in my life and I don’t think a lot of girls on the team have,” 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.”
Moren also commented on the parity in college basketball being at an all-time high. And she is absolutely correct. Both men’s and women’s college basketball are seeing an increasing number of ranked-on-ranked matchups in the non-conference segment of the regular season.
We have already seen examples of good teams going down. On the first night of the regular season, the No. 1 ranked and defending national champion Louisiana State University women’s team was defeated by the University of Colorado Buffaloes. On Sunday, the No. 2 Connecticut Huskies went down on the road in Raleigh, North Carolina against North Carolina State. It’s a win-win for all: the competition is higher; the viewership is certainly higher and the experience for young players is unmatched.
“What I think everybody likes, from a fan perspective, is the early matchups,” Moren said. “You don’t have to wait till March Madness to see some of those. And that’s exactly why we scheduled this game.”
The good news for Indiana is this is only the second game of the year. If you ask any coach in any sport, they would rather have a loss like this in November than in February or March. However, this does not mean that Indiana is done playing talented rosters until January, as the Hoosiers will face the University of Tennessee — another team with two bigs — on Nov. 23.
But before the historic Lady Vols and Hoosiers meet up in Fort Myers, Florida, IU has Murray State University and Lipscomb University on the slate, which they will play 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday, respectively, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Both games can be viewed on Big Ten+.
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.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misinterpreted Sydney Parrish's comments regarding the loss