Indiana women’s basketball took care of business earlier this afternoon, coming away with a 91-68 victory over Rutgers in Assembly Hall. The win gives Indiana sole possession of first place in the Big Ten and improves their overall record to 20-1— good for the best start in program history.
The Scarlet Knights admirably punched well above their weight but this one was never really in doubt. Here’s three things:
Best game yet this season for #34. Berger has played well since returning from a knee injury on January 8th but has done so by taking up more of a complementary role in the offense as of late. Berger buckets became the entrée once again this afternoon.
The graduate guard scored a season-high 21 points and added seven assists to prove to that she is in fact A) fully healthy and B) still one of the best guards in the game. Berger was fantastic in the midrange and commanded the point for the Hoosiers as per usual but what really stuck out about her performance against Rutgers was her efficiency. She was 9-11 (82%) from the field and nearly doubled her season total in three point makes. She hit three of ‘em!
Although Grace has never been much a of a three point shooter, having made just 41 of her 139 career attempts (29.5%), she’s sneakily becoming a solid option. Berger’s made five-straight attempts dating back to IU’s January 15th win over Wisconsin and was a perfect 3-for-3 against the Scarlet Knights. She’s already about as versatile as a point guard can be but sure, go ahead and become a deep threat before our eyes. It’ll only make life more difficult for the unfortunate soul tasked with guarding Berger each night.
Berger’s performance also gave her the numbers needed to become the first Indiana, men’s or women’s, player to ever record 1,600+ points, 600+ assists, and 500+ rebounds. Calling her an all-time great is more than justified at this point.
Here’s a mini-highlight reel from #34’s day:
A season-high 21 points.— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) January 29, 2023
3-3 from the arc.
9-11 FG. @grace_berger34 | #IUWBB pic.twitter.com/zZAdkT7HfD
My favorite basketball player is cooler than yours.
Three point shooting
Grace Berger wasn’t the only Hoosier who got hot from deep against Rutgers. As a team Indiana shot 11-18 (61%) from deep, their best clip of the season. Here’s the full breakdown from deep:
- Sara Scalia 1-2
- Sydney Parrish 3-6
- Grace Berger 3-3
- Yarden Garzon 4-6
That’s a legitimate abundance of Curry-range riches. Yarden Garzon’s day brought her season line to 53-105 (50.2%) which is second-best in all of Division I. Indiana’s ability to make threes is unquestionably the biggest difference between last year’s squad and this year’s.
The 2021-22 Hoosiers were 12th in the Big Ten in three point attempts with 14.7 per game while this season they’re all the way up 7th with 19.1 tries per game. Keep shooting threes, keep averaging nearly 82 points per game, and you’ll probably keep playing well through March.
Seems like Indiana is fully capable of shifting into a gear that none of their opponents can match whenever they see fit. They did it when they won the second quarter 22-12 against North Carolina, they did it when they held Ohio State to six points in the third last week, and they did it in the second today when they hung 33 on the Scarlet Knights.
Nobody can keep up with the Hoosiers because nobody makes shots as well as they do. Indiana currently ranks second in the country in team field goal percentage (50.1%) and fourth in assist-turnover ratio (1.47). They lead the Big Ten in both.
Two players in particular stick out when considering IU’s potential for runs in relation to those two statistics: Mackenzie Holmes and Chloe Moore-McNeil.
Holmes is second in the nation in field goal percentage (68.2%) and CMM is third in A-TR with a 3.55 figure. Holmes has scored 20+ points in nine of her last ten outings and had 21 against Rutgers while Moore-McNeil added five helpers to bring her team-high total to 108.
When Holmes gets hot there are none hotter and CMM is one of the most underrated defenders in the Big Ten. She has an incredibly high in-game basketball IQ and is very active around the ball. An Indiana run typically means stellar play from both #54 and #22.
IU beat Rutgers because they decided to beat Rutgers in the second quarter and scored 33 points in ten (10) minutes. What else is new?