Indiana women’s basketball suffered their first loss of the season yesterday afternoon, falling to Michigan State 83-78 in East Lansing.
The defeat drops Indiana’s record to 12-1 (2-1 Big Ten), and pulls MSU’s up to 9-5 (1-2 Big Ten). The Hoosiers made mistakes, which we’ll get to in a minute, but the big takeaway from this one should be that the Spartans are a good team that played well. No shame in losing on the road in B1G play. Here’s three things:
This was a really frustrating game to watch, partly because of Indiana’s play and partly because of everything else. Let’s start with Indiana’s play.
The Hoosiers committed a season-high 21 turnovers against Michigan State, and twelve of those came in the first half. MSU took a page out of Penn State’s playbook and deployed a press as IU carried the ball up the floor which quickly the rock in Indiana’s proverbial shoe.
Although the press only caused one backcourt violation, it did a number on the Hoosiers psychologically. Working across the timeline suddenly required much more effort than normal, and they seemed to relax a little too much once they had a settled possession. This left them susceptible to quick Spartan doubles that garnered four steals and six “bad pass” turnovers in the first twenty minutes alone. It was ugly and unlike the IU team we’re used to watching.
Minnesota transfer Sara Scalia was held scoreless for the first 33 minutes of the game, but made her presence known with what looked to be a go-ahead three with 6:53 left. After review, however, Scalia’s toe was on the line. The shot ended up just tying the game at 60, and Scalia was held without a three point make for the third time this season.
Indiana had another chance to tie with 0:26 remaining thanks to an offensive foul drawn by Lexus Bargesser, but Scalia was called for a walk three seconds later, effectively ending the game. Hopefully her performance in East Lansing was an isolated one, we all know SS can ball.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the bench in this section, either. Lexus Bargesser, Alyssa Geary, and Henna Sandvik played a total of 24 minutes and tallied a combined four points, two rebounds and one assist. Indiana has actually looked pretty deep so far this season so this may be more of a testament to Michigan State’s quality, but a backup big going -12 in four minutes is something to monitor going forward. Now for the other stuff.
The Breslin Center clock operator was on one during this game. They had to stop play to reset the clock at least three times, I have no idea what the deal was there but it was uhhh kind of annoying! The refs seemed to love to call travels too, and most of them (the ones we saw!) were ticky-tack at best. Oh yeah, did you hear that we didn’t even see the like, big travel call that largely decided the game?
Basically, Lexus Bargesser drew an offensive foul by allowing MSU guard Deedee Hagemann to throw her down to Middle Earth. At first glance it looked like a foul on Bargesser so the broadcast crew got all caught up in watching the replay, failing to change camera angles as IU inbounded down three with 26 seconds left. The commentators were going crazy yelling about how Scalia had traveled, but viewers were still seeing the baseline replays. A tough break, to be sure, but that’s what I get for trying to watch the game from my childhood bedroom I suppose. If anyone needs me I’ll be blasting “Rock ‘n’ Roll Part 2” on repeat for the foreseeable future.
Three point shooting
Indiana scored three points on a play just five times during this game. Two of those times were because Mackenzie Holmes scored, got fouled, and made the subsequent free throw. The Hoosiers shot 3-12 from deep, setting season lows in three point percentage, attempts, and makes. Not great!
IU’s offense has been somewhat two-dimensional since Grace Berger got hurt last month. Most possessions end with either a three point shot or a Mackenzie Holmes attempted layup and that’s pretty much it. They no longer have an elite slashing threat and opponents are starting to catch on
Michigan State did a good job limiting IU’s three point attempts by correctly identifying Sara Scalia and Yarden Garzon as threats on the perimeter. The Spartan defense played both of them pretty high up and were not afraid to double either player, forcing multiple bad passes and turnovers. The extra space their settled press created allowed Indiana to find success down low, scoring 48 points in the paint, but I doubt head coach Suzy Merchant really cares about that. Her team made the right choice when faced with a “Pick Your Poison”-type decision and won the game because of it.
Covering a team that rosters Mackenzie Holmes is nice because I have a guaranteed “thing” to write about after every game. Think this is the third-straight post-game bump for Holmes, and she earned the spot by scoring a career-high 32 points in 36 minutes.
Holmes was in her bag as per usual, especially down the stretch. She tied the game at 58 on an and-one free throw with 7:38 left in regulation, and then added another nine points to keep IU a basket away from being a basket away:
Mack sets a new season-high with 28 points.— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) December 29, 2022
.@kenzieholmes_ | #IUWBB pic.twitter.com/6awAC7GXKK
Holmes and Indiana played the foul game about as well as they could’ve during the final minutes, but MSU made their free throws and was able to close it out.
Yesterday’s double-double was the fourth of the season for #54. Holmes has made 69.1% of her field goals so far this season, second-most in the Big Ten.
Guards Yarden Garzon and Chloe Moore-McNeil also deserve some praise, as they did as much as they could against the Spartans too. Garzon scored 17 points and CMM tied her career-high with three steals, the duo combined for thirteen assists.
So yeah, they finally lost. We knew it would happen at some point. . . it’s no big deal so let’s not make it one.
Hoosiers will be back in action next when they host Nebraska on New Year’s Day in a game that’s gonna be televised on ESPN. That’s right, national TV time for the Hoosiers. Do whatever it takes to be in front of a TV by 1 p.m.