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Monday, May 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

Indiana women’s basketball shows resilience in loss to South Carolina, mirroring the season narrative

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ALBANY, N.Y. — With 7:30 remaining in the third quarter, University of South Carolina sophomore guard Raven Johnson drilled an open 3-pointer to put the Gamecocks up 56-34. Indiana women’s basketball was trailing by a landslide in the Sweet 16 against the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.  

The Hoosiers were down — but they weren't out. 

Indiana used every ounce of its energy to claw back in the second half of Friday’s matchup, battling tooth and nail to pull within two points late in the fourth quarter. While ultimately coming up just short with a 79-75 loss, the Hoosiers showed resilience in a game that paralleled their arduous season. 

“I think it says a lot about Indiana and how we operate in the first place,” senior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil said. “We're never going to quit. We're a tough team and we're always going to fight.” 

Moore-McNeil played a key role in facilitating the Hoosiers’ comeback by doing just that, facilitating. Indiana’s playmaker tallied five second half assists and almost all offensive sets started with the ball in her hands. In addition to her offensive importance, Moore-McNeil played a similarly crucial part on the defensive end of the floor. 

Finishing with six rebounds and a trio of steals, the Greenfield, Tennessee, native played with quick hands and a noticeable toughness. Moore-McNeil’s tenacity warranted Indiana head coach Teri Moren’s praise during her postgame press-conference. 

“She is as tough as a $6 steak,” Moren said. “She's as tough as they come, and she has been our leader all year.” 

Fortunately for Moren, she'll have that grittiness for one more season, as Moore-McNeil announced March 2 she will be using her final season of eligibility and return to the Hoosiers next fall. The same can also be said about her teammate, senior guard Sydney Parrish, who announced her return on Dec. 9.  

Parrish had one of her best performances of the season against South Carolina, scoring a season-high 21 points backed by a five-for-10 clip from beyond the arc. Her 16 points in the second half not only kept Indiana in the game but led the way for the Hoosiers’ resurgence.  

“We could've given up at halftime and it could've been a really ugly game,” Parrish said.  “But we're fighters, and I think we showed that tonight. We didn't want to go out without a fight.” 

Her statement is a more than fitting recap of her entire season and, even more, Indiana’s 2023-24 campaign. 

Parrish suffered a foot injury in the middle of January which prevented her from playing for over a month. Her eventual return in February came in an 86-66 blowout loss to Illinois, a less than warm welcome. After recovering slowly but surely back to 100%, Parrish played her best when Indiana needed her the most. 

The cream and crimson’s long season had its fair share of ups and downs as well, from losing in blowout fashion to Stanford University 96-64 on Nov. 12 to beating No. 3 Iowa 86-69 at home on Feb. 22.  

“This has been an unbelievable year, especially when we started out with the tough loss at Stanford,” Moren said. “I think everybody was wondering what's up with this team and then we rattle off 13 straight wins and beat some teams and have a great Iowa win at home and so forth.” 

The Hoosiers finished with a 26-6 overall record and a flawless 17-0 resume at home in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  

Graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes and fifth-year senior Sara Scalia emerged as one of the premiere duos in women’s college basketball, leading the team with 20 points per game and 16.4 points per game, respectively. Unfortunately for Indiana, the loss to South Carolina will be the pair's final time representing the Hoosiers, as both were in the final year of their eligibility. 

Indiana’s Sweet 16 defeat marks the end of its season and the beginning of next year's preparation. Moren and the Hoosiers now turn their eyes to recruiting and the transfer portal as they look to fill the shoes of Holmes and Scalia.  

"We battled our butts off tonight,” Holmes said. “I’m just super, super proud that, our backs against the wall and we did not go down without a fight. That's all we can really ask for." 

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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