Four years ago, Mackenzie Holmes arrived in Bloomington as, what head coach Teri Moren has described, “a shy freshman.” After all, the high school phenom forward relocated more than 1,000 miles away from her home state of Maine when she came to the Midwest. It was clear Holmes would be important for the Hoosiers when she arrived on campus, but few could predict the history she would make with the program.
During her time with Indiana, Holmes has solidified herself as one of the program’s legends. She has received numerous accolades, including being named an AP Preseason All-American prior to this season. Most recently, Holmes became just the second player in program history to eclipse the 2,000-point mark after a 20-point performance in a win over Princeton University on Nov. 25.
In her fifth and final year in the cream and crimson, Indiana was able to provide a unique opportunity to its star, scheduling an early season bout with the University of Maine to give Holmes a homecoming game in her farewell season.
The moment the team flight landed in Maine, Holmes was ecstatic to be back in her home state. Senior guard Sydney Parrish posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday “Just landed in Maine and I have never seen Mackenzie this happy.”
Regardless of the outside noise, Indiana still had a game to play, one that saw the Hoosiers in a drawn-out battle against the Maine Black Bears. A 34-point performance by Maine graduate student guard Anne Simon left Indiana with a deficit for much of the game, trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half.
Indiana head coach Teri Moren knew that Holmes would be dealing with the nervousness of a homecoming game and had some advice for her before tip-off.
“I reminded her to relax," Moren said postgame. “To let the game come to her.”
Sure enough, it was Holmes who kept Indiana in the game with a team-high 22 points in front of numerous hometown supporters. Ultimately, a quality fourth quarter saw the Hoosiers end up on the winning side of a hard-fought battle with a 67-59 victory.
“To be able to come back here and play, it's just incredible,” Holmes said postgame. “Seeing everyone there means a lot to me, and I’m very blessed to have such a great support system.”
Additionally, the Hoosier star praised her teammates and coaches for keeping her composed throughout the game.
“I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself,” Holmes said. “But knowing my coaches and teammates had my back took some of that pressure off.”
The 22-point performance brings her season average to 17.8, which is on pace to overtake the Hoosiers' all-time leading scorer Tyra Buss who sits at 2364 career points. If she reaches that milestone, it will add to a long list of program records held by Holmes, including blocks, field goal percentage and win shares.
Following the game, Moren shared what it meant for Holmes to have the opportunity to come home.
“I think she’s really proud and super happy that we could make it happen for her,” Moren said.
Holmes’ teammate Parish simply said, “Tonight was for Mackenzie.”
Indiana returns to Bloomington to face Stetson University on Sunday afternoon in a tune-up before its first game of conference play. The game will tip-off at 2 p.m. and will be broadcast on Big Ten+.