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Monday, May 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

Mackenzie Holmes wills Hoosiers past Oklahoma, plays final game at Assembly Hall

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With 2:41 remaining in the final quarter of play, Indiana women's basketball was on the metaphorical ropes, down 64-60 after a free throw completed the opposing University of Oklahoma’s 3-point play. The Hoosiers needed an answer: They needed their star to step up; they needed graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes. 

Playing in her final game in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, in her fifth and final year as a Hoosier, Holmes proceeded to score six straight unanswered points.  

Her efforts sparked a game-clinching 10-0 Indiana run, as Indiana sealed the game with free throws to pull out a 75-68 victory in an NCAA tournament second-round thriller Monday night.  

Holmes’ first half was far from smooth sailing as she shot a below-average 4-for-11 before the intermission. She left the court visibly upset on multiple occasions as Indiana entered the half down 30-29, trailing at the midway mark for the first time since its Feb. 19 loss to Illinois

“I was missing shots I knew I should make,” Holmes said about her frustration in her postgame press conference.  “I didn't want to end this game with a loss. I couldn't let it happen again.” 

That loss she was referring to was last season's shocking 70-68 second-round exit to the University of Miami. Monday’s game appeared to be inching towards a similarly gut-wrenching result until Holmes’ second-half masterclass carried Indiana to an electric win. 

Holmes turned a below-average first half into arguably her most clutch performance of her lengthy career, scoring 20 second-half points on 8-for-12 shooting, a pair of blocks, a steal and not a single turnover. On a night where the Hoosiers — averaging a Division I-best 40.1% from the 3-point line — shot 18.8% from beyond the arc, Holmes willed her squad to victory. 

“We had a hard time tonight finding any rhythm offensively,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “We just decided we had to get the ball into her. When we needed her to step up in the biggest moment, she stepped up.” 

In her 146th game in the cream and crimson, Holmes wrapped up her final minutes in Assembly Hall with a game-high of 29 points and a win in the Hoosiers' biggest matchup of the year. The win also completed a perfect home record, with Indiana going 17-0 on its home floor on the season.  

Now, the Hoosiers set their course for the Sweet 16 where the road will only get tougher. Indiana heads to Albany, New York, to face the No. 1 overall seed University of South Carolina, which holds a spotless 34-0 resume. Beyond that, the Gamecocks won their first two NCAA tournament matchups by an average of 49.5 points. 

Indiana will take on South Carolina at 5 p.m., Friday night, on ESPN, but until then, the Hoosiers have some time to bask in their win over the Sooners. During her press conference, Moren commented on the emotions in the Indiana locker room after the win. 

“It was all worth it just to be in that room,” Moren said. “Just celebrating with that group. Certainly, they were very excited.” 

Following the game, Holmes let out a scream of excitement to the 12,385 fans in attendance before locking arms with her teammates for one last rendition of the alma mater she’s sung so many times before, Hail to Old IU.  

If that wasn't enough, she then ran into the stands and — in a roaring crowd of Hoosier students — wrapped herself around her teammate, fifth-year senior guard Sara Scalia, a more than fitting farewell to Assembly Hall for the pairs final game in Bloomington. Although Indiana’s season is still far from wrapped, Holmes couldn't help but share some heartfelt words as a long chapter of her career came to a close. 

“I've been so blessed every second I've gotten to play in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall,” Holmes said. “They're memories I'll take with me for the rest of my life.” 

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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