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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

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No. 14 Indiana women’s basketball’s steadily improving defense gives way to 80-59 victory over Michigan

IGNORE

Nearly three minutes into No. 14 Indiana women’s basketball’s Thursday matchup against Michigan, the Hoosiers held an 11-4 lead. Despite scoring just 5 points in each of Indiana’s last two games, senior forward Sydney Parrish began the contest with an early layup and a made 3-pointer. 

Senior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil corralled a defensive rebound and brought the ball across the timeline with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. Moore-McNeil dished a pass around Michigan junior guard Jordan Hobbs and into the hands of fifth year senior Sara Scalia. Merely milliseconds later, Scalia reared back and fired a baseball-like pass to Parrish. She caught the ball above her head, readjusted herself and immediately drained her second consecutive 3-pointer. 

Not only did Parrish’s 3-ball give the Hoosiers an early 10-point lead, but it kicked off what turned out to be a flawless first quarter. Indiana went 13-for-13 from the field in the frame, getting out to a 36-17 lead after 10 minutes. 

It became apparent quickly that the Hoosiers’ offense was on the top of their game Thursday night, even more than it was on Dec. 31 against Illinois when Indiana shot nearly 52% from the field. Parrish and Scalia combined for just 7 points against the Fighting Illini, but the Hoosiers made just enough stops on defense to hold on to a close 6-point victory. Fast forward to Thursday and the Hoosiers had stretches of stifling defense alongside efficient offense, keeping the game out of the Wolverines’ grasp. 

“Nothing surprises me with this group as far as their ability to knock down shots,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said postgame. “We knew that we were eventually going to cool off though. The great thing is that we build a lead, and they had to chase us the rest of the game.” 

Michigan entered Thursday averaging nearly nine made 3-pointers per game, but by the Hoosiers’ defense running the Wolverines off the 3-point line and contesting their attempts, the team only drained one shot from beyond the arc.

“Our job was to protect the 3-point line,” Moren said. “We knew the kids that could heat up. If we didn’t, we wanted to try to run them off the arc as much as we could. And so it was more just about our players executing the game plan and what we had to do and what we needed to do. Going into the game, we wanted to keep them under four made threes. Obviously exceeded that goal.” 

Indiana outrebounded Michigan 30-27 despite rebounding being problematic for Indiana in the early stages of the season. The Wolverines came into Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall leading the Big Ten in offensive rebounding at 15 per game, but the Hoosiers — the third best defensive rebounding team in the conference — limited the damage to just 10. 

Not only did Indiana outrebound and limit Michigan to one 3-pointer, but it did so with several players in foul trouble in the latter stages of the game. Parrish picked up her fourth foul of the contest in the third quarter while graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes and sophomore guard Yarden Garzon also finished with four apiece. 

“We got into foul trouble, so we had to play lots of different combinations out there,” Moren said. “To give up only one three to a team like Michigan that averages right around eight made threes a game was pretty terrific as well as rebound.” 

Although the Hoosiers limited the Wolverines to 59 points — their third lowest total through 15 games this season — Moren isn’t satisfied with where her squad’s defense is at.   

“What we have to continue to improve is our defense,” Moren said. “We’ve showed signs of the grittiness, the toughness that we had a year ago and we’re moving in the direction that we see a lot of good moments.” 

While the 2023-24 Hoosiers aren’t the same as last season’s team, improvements have been coming slowly but surely throughout their 13 games. 

“We’re stingy — we can stack up three to four possessions where we get stops and that’s what we want to do,” Moren said. “We want to stack up stops in the course in the rhythm of the game and our kids understand that that’s what we hang our hat on.” 

With the victory, Indiana moves to 12-1 with a 3-0 record in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers now set their sights on a 2 p.m. tipoff Sunday against Nebraska (11-3, 3-0 Big Ten) at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The contest will be televised on the Big Ten Network. 

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.

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