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Indiana 77, Lipscomb 44: Three things we learned

Tough week to be a Bisons in Bloomington.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indiana defeated Lipscomb for the second time four days yesterday afternoon. This time it was #18 Indiana women’s basketball beating the Bisons after men’s soccer eliminated the purple and gold in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday.

Here’s three things:

Defensive improvements

Indiana’s defense had not been playing up to standard heading into yesterday’s game.

The Hoosiers gave up 96 points to then-#15 Stanford in their loss in Palo Alto a week ago before letting a not-so-great Murray State offense go for 79 Friday night in Assembly Hall.

Fortunately, the offense was on point against the Racers, and put up a program second-best 112 points in the win. Still, Indiana only allowed up 75+ points seven times last year... seeing it happen in back-to-back games was concerning.

Back to Sunday though. Things looked better! Indiana forced Lipscomb to settle for subpar looks and held the Bisons to just 30.9% shooting from the field— the worst percentage of any opponent since Eastern Illinois in the opener.

Mackenzie Holmes was dominant as ever off the glass and grabbed nine rebounds. Lexus Bargesser also impressed with seven boards off the bench.

The Hoosiers have tough tests ahead in #15 Tennessee and Princeton, but fans should feel more optimistic than they did a couple days ago. Chloe Moore-McNeil calling the defense “soft” earlier in the week has seemingly done the trick.

Putting respect on Sara Scalia’s name

Scalia has been awesome to start 2023-24 and played her most well-rounded game of the year versus Lipscomb. When hot, she is one of the most exciting players to watch in all of college ball.

The fifth-year guard led Indiana in points (24) and assists (5) and was a blistering 5-7 (72.1%) from deep against the Bisons.

During her first season with IU, Scalia was largely a spot shooter who’d let the ball come to her. We’re seeing her get involved a little differently this year. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher still projects as a volume shooter, just with a little more action. Her catch ‘n shoots off screens have been automatic, especially from the top of the key.

Scalia’s carrying the ball and getting to the line more often, too, which great because she’s Indiana’s best free throw shooter. #14 is a perfect 15-for-15 from the stripe this year.

Improving as a defender, Scalia managed to recorded six rebounds in the win. Here she is showcasing some versatility on the break:

Associate head coach Rhet Wierza was quick to compliment her defensive growth during the broadcast and the praise is more than warranted.

Personnel potpourri

The upcoming Fort Myers Tip-Off matchups will tell us more, but we’re starting to see Indiana’s rotation come together.

Sophomore Lexus Bargesser has been great in her expanded role. She’s usually the first or second guard off the bench and commands the offense well when taking over for Chloe Moore-McNeil. If you’re looking to buy stock in a future All-B1G player... Bargesser is a great choice.

Freshman guard Lenée Beaumont is also getting a good look off the bench, averaging 15.3 minutes per game so far. Like Bargesser, Beaumont is out there to play with the ball and recorded three assists against Lipscomb.

We’re also seeing more of sophomore guard Henna Sandvik who is playing a role similar to Bargesser’s in 2022-23. Sandvik was first off the bench today and usually enters the game in defensive situations.

The post minutes split has been the most interesting. Lilly Meister continues to spell Mackenzie Holmes and has played nearly all non-Holmes post minutes. We’ve yet to see significant playing time for UT Martin transfer Sharnecce Currie-Jelks.

SCJ, the 2023 Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, made her second appearance as a Hoosier in the final minute of yesterday’s game. Indiana’s only transfer from this past offseason, Currie-Jelks has brought great energy to the bench and is probably only sitting to get more acclimated to IU’s offense.

This isn’t a big thing, as Meister and Holmes have been up to the task as a two-some thus far, but Indiana is going to need SCJ ready to contribute by conference play. We hope to see her get some real minutes against Tennessee and Princeton this weekend.