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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

Inside Indiana women’s basketball’s devastated locker room after season-ending loss to South Carolina

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Nearly half an hour after Indiana women’s basketball almost completed the improbable, the Hoosiers sat in their locker room on the south side of MVP Arena in Albany, New York, devastated. It was almost silent. 

Yarden Garzon sat alone on a trainer’s table next to a stationary bike, resting her head on her clenched left hand.  

“This is a loss,” Garzon said quietly. “At the end of the day, we are going home, and we are not going to the Elite Eight, so it’s tough.” 

A piece of yellow legal notepad paper was taped to the bike. It read, “Believe.” The Hoosiers did. Ultimately, they came up just 4 points shy of ending the University of South Carolina’s undefeated season. 

Sara Scalia sat in her locker, teary-eyed while resting her head on Julianna LaMendola’s chest to her left.  

Scalia’s fifth and final college basketball season just ended. Although the Hoosiers failed to pull off the victory, she believed the team showed who they are. 

“I think we really had a shot there towards the end, but I think we just showed everyone watching that we’re never going to give up, we’re always going to keep our effort up and play together,” Scalia said. 

Just a handful of lockers to Scalia’s left was Chloe Moore-McNeil. She sat hunched over in her locker with her fingers interlocked. Less than two feet in front of her was Indiana’s scouting report on the Gamecocks. "NOT AFRAID” was written in green marker on the front page, underlined three times. Moore-McNeil used two words to describe this season. 

“Adversity and unbreakable,” Moore-McNeil said. “Even through all of the adversity, our chemistry made us rise up through anything.” 

Just eight minutes later, she began to bawl, hugging a student manager in the doorway of the locker room. 

Seconds later, Mackenzie Holmes and Syndey Parrish entered. 

Holmes, moments removed from completing her postgame press conference alongside Indiana head coach Teri Moren and Sydney Parrish, sat with her fingers interlocked, looking at the blue and gray carpet as her legendary career had just ended. 

All she could do was think. About the game, the last five years and all the moments she’s shared with her teammates throughout the years.  

What does she cherish the most? 

“The team dinners, the bus rides, the plane rides, the fact that we can have fun with each other doing just about nothing,” Holmes said. “Just sitting around with each other, we’re always laughing so I cherish those memories more than anything on the court.” 

While Holmes reminisced, Sydney Parrish sat just two lockers to Holmes’ right as Lilly Meister’s locker was in between. 

Parrish raved about being best friends with Holmes, explaining that she wished she had more than just two seasons with her. 

Not only did Parrish explain what Holmes means to her, she described what Arielle Wisne means to the Hoosiers. 

“You’re never going to find a better teammate than Arielle,” Parrish said. “A lot of people who don’t play, they hit the portal to go play somewhere and she stuck it out for five years. We couldn’t be more proud of her and more thankful that she’s on this team. She’s meant so much to us.” 

Although Wisne played in just 12 games, it’s what’s happened off the court that has impacted her the most. 

When she came to Indiana from Thornton, Colorado, in 2019, Wisne didn’t know who she was. She found herself in Bloomington. Despite there being numerous hard times that led her to believe she wouldn’t remain a Hoosier, she leaned on her teammates when she needed them most. 

And although Indiana endured much more adversity than it did during its historic 2022-23 Big Ten championship season, Wisne described her final season in one word: joyful. 

“Even in the hard times, we always had each other and there was joy in the worst and in the best,” Wisne said. 

Friday marked Holmes’ 147th contest in the cream and crimson, Scalia’s 64th and Wisne’s 53rd, but they all shared one commonality: it proved to be their last. 

The nine other Hoosiers will return to Bloomington to soak in the losing feeling, according to Moore-McNeil, before gearing up for the 2024-25 season. 

Although the program’s all-time leading scorer’s career ended in Albany, she still thinks Indiana women’s basketball is on the ascent. 

“I hope that this is not the end,” Holmes said. “This is just the beginning for our program and the trajectory of it is just going to grow.” 

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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