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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

Holmes’ late substitution not enough as No. 12 Indiana women’s basketball is upset by Michigan

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No. 12 Indiana women’s basketball entered Friday night’s Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal matchup against Michigan with hopes of escaping the day’s trending theme of upsets. Two of the top four seeds in the tournament, No. 1 seed Ohio State and No. 4 seed Michigan State, fell short of the semifinals in unexpected upsets.  

Despite the No. 3 seeded Hoosiers holding a 17-point lead in the 3rd quarter, a disastrous second half left the cream and crimson vulnerable leading to a 69-56 loss to the Wolverines. 

Indiana entered the game without its leading scorer, graduate student forward Mackenzie Holmes, in the starting lineup. While remaining available to play after suffering a knee injury in the regular season finale against Maryland on March 3, the veteran Hoosier started the quarterfinals on the bench.  

It appeared that Indiana head coach Teri Moren wouldn’t have to worry about playing her star much as her team held a 35-21 lead exiting the half. 

“I like where we’re at, I like not having to use her,” Moren said in her halftime interview before heading off the court. “So, if we can maintain what we’re doing now then I don’t know if you’ll see her or not.” 

Coming out of the intermission the Hoosiers did everything but maintain their high quality of play, nearly losing the lead after being outscored 19-8 in the next frame. Seven third-quarter turnovers plagued Indiana offensively and generated easy looks for the Wolverines on the other end of the floor. 

The sloppy play continued into the fourth quarter and with 8:40 left in the final frame, Michigan completed the comeback and took a 44-43 lead, its first since the score was 7-6. Eventually, Moren was forced to bring in Holmes with 6:28 remaining in the game, but it was too little too late as Indiana left the floor with a decisive loss.  

Holmes’ absence was most evident in the Hoosiers’ defensive collapse inside the paint during the second half. Junior guard Laila Phelia led the way for the Wolverines with a season-high 30 points, all from inside the 3-point line. Michigan scored 38 points in the paint and repeatedly attacked the Hoosiers at the basket.  

“They started attacking the basket really aggressively and we had trouble keeping Phelia in front of us,” Indiana senior guard Sydney Parrish said. “Mackenzie’s presence was missed.” 

Without Holmes, a member of the Big Ten all-defensive first team, Indiana conceded high-percentage shots which allowed the Wolverines to gain an advantage  

The Hoosiers were similarly impacted on the offensive front as they lacked paint scoring and settled for low-percentage shots from beyond the arc. Indiana’s inability to attack the paint is showcased in its lone three free throw attempts, the fewest the Hoosiers have had in any game this season. 

While Holmes’ absence may worry the Hoosier faithful, Moren gave some promising words that may calm those concerns following the loss. 

“In terms of how healthy she is, she could have easily played tonight,” Moren said. “I do think when the NCAA Tournament gets here, we’ll feel a whole lot different and much, much better.” 

With the loss to Michigan, Indiana failed to advance to Saturday's semifinals and a third matchup with No. 2 seed Iowa. Instead, the Hoosiers will wait to hear their name called for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. 

A first-round exit to the Wolverines certainly does Indiana no favors, as it entered the conference tournament on the cusp of hosting the first two rounds at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. To do so the Hoosiers will need to be a No. 4 seed or higher, a position they have been hovering around all season. 

Indiana entered the week ranked No. 12 in the AP poll, but a 13-point defeat to a Tournament bubble team like Michigan could push the Hoosiers outside of the top 16. Using the poll as a gauge for seeding, the loss has serious potential to send Indiana on the road for its initial two games of the NCAA Tournament.  

The Hoosiers' fate will be decided during the NCAA Tournament selection show at 8 p.m. March 17. 

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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