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Indiana women’s basketball beats Illinois 77-71: Three things we learned

The Hoosiers survived a close one at home.

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

History repeats itself.

Indiana women’s basketball once again found itself in a close game against Illinois in the closing minutes, just like last year. Again, the Hoosiers were able to emerge victorious due to a few key plays.

It was an eventful day for the program. Grace Berger made her return to Assembly Hall to receive her Big Ten championship ring and the Hoosiers closed out 2023 with a win. All that being said, here’s three things we learned.

Mackenzie Holmes

Holmes was all but automatic today, finishing with 30 points off of 10 made field goals. The Illini kept on swarming the paint to try to slow her down, but just ended up sending her to the line instead.

Illinois managed a run in the third to keep the game tight while Holmes attempted just a single shot. She came through in the fourth when needed most, hitting four of her five attempts and five of her seven free throws.

She played 31 minutes in this one, probably more than the staff had hoped, but Lilly Meister filled in admirably with 8 points off the bench including a Holmes-eque move to get the bucket.

After an All-American season last year, Holmes still lives up to that billing.

Chloe Moore-McNeil

Teri Moren has been calling on Moore-McNeil to be more aggressive as a scorer with the ball in her hands. She’s done an exemplary job running Indiana’s offense but Moren knows she’s good for double figures every game.

Moore-McNeil proved her right today, finishing with 19 points and 2-3 shooting from the arc. The assists were down, but the rest of Indiana’s roster easily filled in the gap as designed.

The Hoosiers are going to need these types of games from her to get where they want to go. On nights when some starters can’t put points on the scoreboard, Moore-McNeil is going to need to take it herself.

She’s shown she can.

An off shooting day

Indiana went 5-13 from 3-point range while limiting Illinois to just 2-10 from deep. Neither team was lighting up the scoreboard in that category, but Indiana is built for better shooting nights than this.

It was tough to find good looks but the ones that went in were massive, momentum shifting shots including Garzon’s late from the right corner to all but put the game out of reach for the Hoosiers.

Sara Scalia had just 2 points tonight, both of which were free throws. The Illini were absolutely aware of her all game, not losing track of her on the arc after her performance against Bowling Green.

Indiana will have better games in this category but it’s probably good that 38.5% from 3-point range feels off.