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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

Sara Scalia’s 27-point outburst guides No. 4 seed Indiana to Round of 64 victory

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Sara Scalia entered Saturday with a 1-1 record in the NCAA Tournament. Then-No. 1 seed Indiana women’s basketball finished the 2023 NCAA Tournament with a 1-1 record, falling to the University of Miami in the Round of 32. 

That was Scalia’s first taste of the Big Dance. She totaled just 10 points over 42 minutes on the court. 

Saturday marked Scalia’s second tournament appearance. She explained Friday that she doesn’t want to experience the feeling that the Hoosiers felt when they fell to the Hurricanes. 

When the Stillwater, Minnesota, native checked out of No. 4 seeded Indiana’s NCAA Tournament Round of 64 matchup against No. 13 seed Fairfield University with 5:09 left in the contest, she guaranteed the Hoosiers wouldn’t endure the same type of heartbreaking loss they did 369 days ago. 

Scalia finished Saturday's matinee with 27 points, going 9-of-16 from the field alongside four rebounds and two assists. 

Although the Hoosiers eventually cruised to an 89-56 victory over the Stags, the first half was tightly contested — Indiana led by 4 points at halftime. 

Fairfield knocked down six 3-pointers in the opening half as the Hoosiers allowed numerous open looks from downtown. 

While the Stags connected from distance, Scalia went just 1-of-4 from beyond the arc in the first half — her first NCAA Tournament 3-pointer. 

Despite their squad leading to begin the second half, the Hoosier faithful were still tense. They had seen Fairfield respond time and again to the Hoosiers in the first half and the contest was closer than expected. 

The Stags pulled to within 3 points in the early stages of the third quarter. 

And then Scalia began to heat up. She drained her second 3-pointer of the day 2:23 into the second half. 

Fairfield freshman roadrunner Megan Andersen responded with a 3-ball of her own though. 

The Hoosiers then went on a 13-0 run — 7 of those points courtesy of Scalia — capped off by Scalia’s third 3-pointer of the contest. 

"We just needed a run,” Scalia said postgame. “We needed Assembly Hall to kind of get us going a little bit.” 

Indiana was on cruise control once the Hoosier faithful got their squad going. Although they started the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead, the Hoosiers led by 19 with nearly six minutes left. 

And then Scalia took over. 

She drained her fourth 3-pointer with 6:07 remaining. 

And then she knocked down her fifth just 35 seconds later. 

Now holding a commanding 25-point lead, Scalia made her way toward Indiana’s bench, signifying the end of her day as she received a standing ovation from the 12,753 fans in attendance. 

Scalia finished the contest 5-of-10 from 3-point range as the Hoosiers finished 10-of-26. Saturday marked her eighth game this season with at least five 3-pointers. 

“It’s always good for a shooter to have a good shooting game,” Scalia said. “It just brings more and more confidence.” 

Scalia’s 27 points set an Indiana record for the most points by a Hoosier in an NCAA Tournament game — a record previously held by Denise Jackson with 25 points in 1983. 

Not only was Scalia knocking down shots, but she was playing with an edge, motioning towards the crowd several times to get loud. Senior guard Sydney Parrish explained that while Scalia began playing with more of her fiery attitude against Iowa on Feb. 22, she’s consistently displayed it in practice. 

With Scalia now with a record-setting performance under her belt, the Hoosiers will look to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in four years when they take on the No. 5 seeded University of Oklahoma on Monday. 

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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