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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

All-around improved second half powers No. 4 seed Indiana past Fairfield

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No. 4 seed Indiana women’s basketball took down Fairfield University Saturday afternoon 89-56 and advanced the Hoosiers into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Contrary to the final score, the Hoosiers were in a deadlocked contest — until a monstrous second half where they outscored the Stags 51-22. 

A large amount of Fairfield's first-half success could be attributed to the play of senior guard Janelle Brown. Standing at just 5’6,” her scrappy defensive play and explosiveness with the ball on the offensive end kept the Stags within reach.  

“They have a dynamic point guard in Nelly Brown,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said during her pre-game press conference Friday. “[Fairfield plays] with a lot of freedom, a lot of movement, a lot of cutting.” 

This fast-paced team-oriented offensive attack was on full display right out of the gate. The Stags' first half-court set of the game contained a trio of quick passes in succession that allowed for an open 3-point make from Brown.  

Although Indiana had the advantage in size and speed, Fairfield's ball movement found the holes in the stout Hoosier defense. Brown carried her team to a 5-point lead in the second quarter on the back of a 9-0 run and although Indiana clawed back to a 38-34 lead at the end of the half, the game was still very much up for grabs. 

Brown finished with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting and 5 rebounds in the first half, but the Hoosiers came out of the locker room with a major answer for her play. 

Indiana pieced together a 13-0 run in the early parts of the second half to take a 16-point lead. A major part of that was the defensive emphasis on making Brown less effective off the dribble.  

“I definitely saw that they tried to lock down my right hand,” Brown said postgame. “I think that the Indiana defense did a good job of trying to shut us down.” 

Brown had just two made field goals in the second half. 

For the Hoosiers’ offense, poor first-half shooting was all but redeemed with a lights-out performance out of the intermission. Indiana came out cold by its standards, going a combined 3-for-12 from beyond the arc in the first two quarters and shooting 14-for-32 as a whole. However, that quickly changed as fifth-year senior guard Sara Scalia headlined a 58.6% second-half rate from the field. 

Scalia scored 18 of her game-high 27 points in the second half as the Stags struggled to find a solution to the Hoosiers deadeye shooting. Additionally, many of Indiana’s shot attempts were uncontested in transition thanks to their clamp-down second-half defense. 

“All of their runs came from our mistakes on defense,” senior guard Sydney Parrish said. “So just trying to get those stops on defense led to our points on the offensive end.” 

Indiana capped off its second-half masterclass with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter, when Scalia drilled back-to-back leaning 3-pointers to extend the Hoosier lead to 27. She came out of the game shortly after and received a standing ovation from the 12,753 fans inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

Indiana will look to carry its momentum from the second half into the second round where the Hoosiers will take on the University of Oklahoma. After last year’s stunning loss to Miami in the Round of 32, Indiana will hope to make amends and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 

The official time for the Hoosiers’ second-round tip-off has yet to be announced. 

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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