Indiana women’s basketball had their first test of the season last night— and they passed! The No. 12 Hoosiers defeated No. 11 Tennessee on the road in Knoxville last night, here’s three things:
Chloe Moore McNeil
What a return to Tennessee for the Junior guard from Sharon. Moore-McNeil scored a career-high 15 points and made three threes in 36 minutes on the court. She also had five assists and three steals, none of which were bigger than the one that came 6:06 remaining in regulation.
A much-needed Grace Berger jumper had just halted a big Volunteer push when CMM forced a turnover by Tennessee’s Brooklynn Miles and immediately sprinted down the court:
Indiana scored 21 fast break points and Moore-McNeil was responsible for at least eight. Transition threat is another tool to add to this offense’s bag; they scored 1.13 points per possession last night, which is a decent efficiency figure. The ability to dictate pace and play fast when they want will be big for Indiana when it comes to maintaining control of games later in the year.
Bonus thing: It’s always fun to play against former teammates. Happy for CMM!
Hand up, I was completely wrong about Sydney Parrish. When her addition to the IU roster was first announced, I didn’t really get all the hype (I am not from Indiana, and was not familiar with her game/story before she transferred, my bad!). I thought she’d come off the bench and more or less tread water for 20 minutes a night. Nope! She’s one of the most important players in the Indiana rotation because of the energy and scoring boost she brings to the floor. She could be the best sixth player in the Big Ten, it’s juice play after juice play after juice play from #33.
Parrish finished the night with 13 points, four rebounds, and five assists in 27 minutes. Here’s one of her two three-pointers, both of which came off big Indiana offensive boards:
She’s also one of the scrappiest, if not the most scrappy player on the roster. Parrish has never seen a loose ball she didn’t want to dive for and doesn’t shy away from contact in the paint. This can sometimes lead to foul trouble (she had four last night) but that’s not even that much of an issue given the depth of this year’s team compared to last. We’ve enjoyed watching her play so far because she toes the line between pest and unnecessarily physical well.
A lot of things could’ve gone wrong for Indiana last night. It was their first road game of the year, first game against a ranked team, and first game on ESPN this season. That’s a lot to deal with mentally, but it didn’t get to the Hoosiers.
Indiana led for most of the night. They went up 11-10 with 4:42 remaining in the 1st and stayed ahead for the remainder of the game, but that doesn’t mean Tennessee keeled over.
The Volunteers made things interesting early on in the 4th quarter. They made some defensive changes (ask Tom Crean), causing the Indiana offense to stagnate and have difficulty getting through their progressions. A 5-0 Tennessee run put the score at 61-57 IU with 7:05 left, the closest the game had been since the 1st. The teams then swapped empty possessions before a huge Grace Berger basket put Indiana up six with 6:24 left; breaking a three minute Indiana scoreless drought and summoning a sigh of relief in fans across the Hoosier State:
They weren’t out of the woods yet, however. An interesting foul call on Freshman forward Lilly Meister at 5:49 sent Tennessee center Tamari Key to the line. Key brought the Vols back within six, 65-59, but an Alyssa Geary block shut down their next shot attempt and kept the game at two possessions. The dagger then came in the form of another Grace Berger jumper, which darted in off the back of the rim with 2:50 remaining. We’d expect nothing less, the mental fortitude this team showcased in the first opportunity to do so was quite encouraging! They could be really, really good.
Before I wrap things up I should also mention how well Mackenzie Holmes played. She looked healthy and was impactful in all 34 minutes she played. Holmes also outplayed another very talented big in Tamari Key, which bodes well for IU when the conference slate rolls around. With an 80.8 two-point percentage, she’s the most efficient two-point player in the nation according to CBBAnalytics on Twitter.
Up next for Indiana is a home game against Bowling Green. Tip is set for 7pm this Thursday in Assembly Hall.