With 20 seconds left in the game, sophomore guard Yarden Garzon shook off her defender and rose for a mid-range jumper to put the Hoosiers ahead by two possessions. As ball met nylon, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall erupted.
In Thursday night’s 94-91 win, the Ra’anana, Israel, native tallied 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three, to go along with three rebounds, two assists and a crucial block out of bounds in the second half to stall the Spartans’ offense.
The 20-point output is Garzon’s second-highest point total this season, trailing only a 30-point showing against the University of Evansville on Dec. 18.
“I am really comfortable with my shot and I’m really confident in it,” Garzon said postgame. “I know the coaches are too.”
Garzon’s late-game dagger was not the only big shot she hit. Whether it was a transition 3-pointer to end the third quarter or a driving layup early in the fourth quarter to keep Indiana within striking distance, Garzon came through when needed most for the Hoosiers.
“Yarden, hitting those huge shots for us. I mean, the difficulty of the shots that Yarden hits are incredible to me, but we have confidence in her, and I think she knows that and so that helps us down the stretch when she able to hit those huge buckets,” graduate forward Mackenzie Holmes said postgame.
The rest of the Indiana box score was loaded with points — 74 more excluding Garzon’s total. Led by Holmes’ 28 points, fifth-year guard Sara Scalia’s 21 and sophomore guard Lexus Bargesser’s 10 on a combined 21-of-30 shooting, the Hoosiers were able to combat the Spartans’ offense, which shot 58% and hit 12 3-pointers.
Last season, Garzon averaged 11.1 points per game — but that was with now-WNBA player Grace Berger in the fold and this season’s second-leading scorer Sara Scalia coming off the bench.
Scalia’s scoring jumped from 9.5 points to 16. It seems as if Scalia took the jump most predicted Garzon to take.
Still, from a team standpoint, the Hoosiers are 19-3 with every single one of their goals still well within reach.
Garzon’s performance can help boost her confidence. With the support of her teammates and the ever-standing increased role due to the injury of senior guard Sydney Parrish, Garzon is back where she needs to be. And frankly, she may have never left.
Indiana head coach Teri Moren took the postgame podium to express the toughness of the Hoosiers to stick with Michigan State and not fall behind to the Spartans’ leads in the second half.
“We are down a starter but figure out a way to, especially in the second half, climb back into the game, regain the lead and then have to make big plays down the stretch, and make big shots,” Moren said.
Garzon’s big game ultimately needs a follow-up — and the Hoosiers have a big opportunity to do so Sunday, with Holmes looking to finish her time in Bloomington undefeated against the Boilermakers.
“I want to beat Purdue, I want to sweep Purdue for my career,” Holmes said.
The Hoosiers will host the Boilermakers tip-off at 2 p.m. on Big Ten +.