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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

COLUMN: Indiana women’s basketball’s tournament loss marks a new era. The work begins now


ALBANY, N.Y. — On Nov. 12 in Palo Alto, California, Indiana women’s basketball was demolished early by the Stanford University Cardinal — an ugly loss where the Hoosiers accepted defeat early.  

The question then, with a promising season and 29 games in front of them, was this: Can the Hoosiers play with the elitest of the elite? Can they hold their own against a goliath, in the form of a hall of fame coach and WNBA talent. 

The answer was yes, but there are never guarantees in the NCAA Tournament. A crushing defeat to the now-35-0 University of South Carolina, 79-75, on Friday night in Albany proved just that, but the Hoosiers didn’t go down without a fight. 

Indiana entered the halftime locker room down by 17 points.  

Unlike that day in Palo Alto, the Hoosiers got off the mat and punched back for the entirety of the second half. Indiana returned to the identity head coach Teri Moren instilled in the program — a gritty, relentless team. 

“We are blue collar. We play with a chip,” Moren said. “We are okay with people giving us an underdog role.” 

South Carolina has the best squad of athletes for any team this season that features 6-foot-7-inch senior center Kamila Cardoso, junior guard Bree Hall and senior guard Te-Hina PaoPao.  

The early stages of the first half and the game’s finish cemented the notion about South Carolina. Indiana just couldn’t overcome them. 

Indiana made shots and stops, and the team showed it could hang around. It just simply ran out of time. It’s almost as if the clock moves twice as fast when climbing out of a 20-plus-point hole in the NCAA Tournament. 

Moren alluded to it in the post-game press conference — the Hoosiers won the third and fourth quarters. But you don’t play to win halves, you play to win games, and the gigantic hole the Hoosiers had to get out of was a little too big to fully overcome.  

With all the hope, exhilaration and adrenaline that came with that second half comeback, falling short calls for a re-grouping. The 2024-25 season starts now, and Indiana has work to do, in and out of house. 

What does this loss mean for Indiana’s future?  

The landscape of college sports has changed. With the transfer portal and Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), the new season started as soon as the buzzer sounded. At the postgame press conference, Moren essentially pitched why Indiana is a place for the best talent in the country. 

“If you’re willing and you want to get better, this is a place you probably want to think about,” Moren said. “We’re going to roll up our sleeves, we’re going to help you develop and get better in your time here at Indiana.”  

The Hoosiers will lose two gigantic pieces of their foundation in Holmes and fifth-year senior guard Sara Scalia, but the pain of this loss will grow muscle for next season.  

“Those guys that are coming back, this is a great experience for them,” Moren said. “I want it to bother Beau, I want it to bother Jules, I want it to bother Chloe, I want it to bother Lily, all those kids.” 

What must happen for this Hoosier squad is a transformation like no other: the search for the next Holmes, the next Grace Berger, the next Ali Patberg. The Hoosiers will need a player that will exceed the expectations of a sharpshooter that Scalia set into the minds of Hoosier nation.  

What can the previously mentioned underclassmen create?  

Sophomore guard Lexus Bargesser has to remain a defensive threat and an offensive presence that can knife to the basket. Freshman guards Lenee Beaumont and Julianna LaMendola need to be reliable options from beyond the arc. And sophomore forward Lily Meister has to add that pivot foot that worked so well for Holmes.  

Now what else does Indiana need to add? 

The Hoosiers must turn to the portal. A team, especially in a conference like the Big Ten, cannot survive without utilizing it. But Moren knows that. She added Scalia, probably the X-factor this season for Indiana, and senior guard Sydney Parrish.  

This offseason will be a great chance for Bargesser, Beaumont, LaMendola and Meister to be the next super stars to wear the cream and crimson — and the glory days of the Teri Moren era are very far from over.  

“I'm always optimistic,” Moren said. “That's how I was raised. Those guys that are coming back, this is a great experience for them.” 

The chance at that next step. A chance to regain that step in Big Ten play that was lost this year, a championship. A chance to make it back to the second day of the second weekend, the Elite Eight. And beyond. 

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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