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Three Things: Indiana women’s basketball beats Ohio State, 83-59

hoosiers was ‘avin a laff

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

For the second time in 19 days, Indiana women’s basketball, the #2 team in the country, has handed a thorough shellacking to the Ohio State Buckeyes, a fellow ranked team. Last night’s drubbing came in the form of an 83-59 result on #13 OSU’s home floor. Here’s three things:

Mackenzie Holmes is the National Player of the Year

Mackenzie Holmes is the best player in the country. I know so because unlike the National Media, I have actually watched her play basketball and believe that advancing the sport should entail an MVP race that includes more than two (2) players. She’s firmly in that race, and most Big Tan fans should agree that she’s leading. Seeing her finally get recognized after last night’s game was a step in the right direction:

Holmes scored a career-high 33 points off 15-18(!!!) shooting in Indiana’s rout of OSU. She got anything she wanted down low and successfully drew three fouls in addition to recording five boards and two helpers. Holmes and Grace Berger (who had a great night in her own right, finishing with a 16 point, 10 rebound double-double) feasted on the pick ‘n roll all game long:

Given Indiana’s utter dominance in this one, Holmes’s 33-piece seemed casual. I am obligated to inform you that OSU’s starting big, Rebeka Mikulasikova, missed the game due to injury but I can assure you it did not matter. Holmes was gonna get hers regardless.

This was up there as one of the better games of Mackenzie’s career, but you can say the same for essentially every game Indiana has played over the last month. Her overall body of work has been outstanding this season and that’s why she should be the prime candidate for NPOY.

She’s currently sixth in the country in points-per-game with 22.5 and second in field goal percentage as she’s connected on 69.7% of her attempts. Holmes has averaged 24.6 points-per-game over Indiana’s last 14 games, and has eclipsed the 30 mark in three of those. Her individual stats are better than Caitlin Clark’s at this point and Indiana’s relative success compared to Aliyah Boston and South Carolina ensures that you cannot mention one without the other when pondering resumes.

Oh yeah, Mackenzie Holmes leads the Big Ten in blocks-per-game too. She even hit a jump shot in the first half last night, likely prompting a certain wise man to proclaim that she, in fact, does “everything.”

Sara Scalia went Sicko Mode

Season-high 24 points and 6 3-point field goals made for the Minnesota transfer. Best and most efficient (9-12 FGs) game of her career as a Hoosier.

Scalia started this game well. She hit her first three of the game with 40 ticks left in the first quarter and added a fast break layup shortly before the frame ended. It was looking like another decent night off the bench, but then the second quarter started.

Scalia was EN FUEGO during the second. She played the entire quarter and was 4-5 from three, serving as the catalyst for a 22-2 Indiana run that prompted us to do nothing more than Laugh Very Hard.

Her biggest basket of the night came during the third. Ohio State had clawed their way back into the game, cutting the deficit to 10 with two minutes remaining. Many people (my roommates) were pleading for Teri Moren to call a timeout once Indiana crossed the timeline, but Ball Knowers kept the faith and never got nervous. Then Scalia did this:

Inject the shots of the crowd reluctantly sitting back down into my veins. They really thought they had a chance!!! LOL.

It was great to see Scalia be trusted with the dagger in Columbus, especially given how her season as a whole has been gone.

She was largely living up to the billing as one of the Big Ten’s best shooters through Indiana’s first handful of games. Scalia averaged 2.5 threes per game across Indiana’s first eight games but seemed to hit a wall against Illinois on 12/04, going 0-5 from deep. One off night turned into a string of them, and Scalia almost seemed snakebitten for much of December and January. She was even relegated from the starting lineup at Northwestern on 1/08.

I did not play basketball growing up, so I don’t know what it’s like to get out of rhythm as a shooter but I do know what it’s like to get demoted to the bench, and it sucks. I think a lot of Indiana fans were feeling for Scalia in January, getting through all that must’ve been tough.

Luckily for said fans, Scalia seems to be pretty resilient. She’s embraced her sixth player role well and has been awesome as of late. Her first big game off the bench came on 1/23 against Michigan when she dropped 19 and she hasn’t looked back. Scalia’s averaged 10.5 points-per-game since and has hit multiple threes in three straight.

Seeing her get her shot back has been great not just because it’s a bit of a feel-good story, but because it makes Indiana that much deeper and they sneakily needed to be deep last night. Hoosier starters Sydney Parrish, Chloe Moore-McNeil, and Yarden Garzon combined for just 10 points on 4-16 shooting, but they can afford to do that when Scalia’s feeling it.

I loved hearing Teri Moren talk about how supportive Scalia’s teammates were during her slump. It was nice to see her return the favor in a big way on the court last night, nobody backs their teammates quite like the Hoosiers.

What lies ahead

Indiana has not won a conference regular season title since 1983, the first season in which the Big Ten sponsored women’s basketball. They split the crown with Ohio State that year, but will be able to claim the throne outright this time around if all goes well down the stretch.

The Hoosiers boast a 14-1 conference record with three games remaining while the second place Iowa Hawkeyes are currently 12-2 with four games left. After doing some Finite Math and crunching the numbers, we have concluded that Indiana does indeed control its own destiny. Here’s the home stretch for IU:

  • Thursday, 2/16 vs. #12 Michigan
  • Sunday, 2/19 vs. Purdue
  • Sunday, 2/26 @ #7 Iowa

Three big games, but they all come against teams Indiana has already defeated this season. Iowa finishes with a home game against Wisconsin and road trips to Nebraska and #8 Maryland before wrapping things up when Indiana comes to town. If you’ve currently got something in your 2pm block on 2/26, grab an eraser.

The Hawkeyes’ road to the finish is easier than the Hoosiers’, but given how Indiana’s been playing all season we’ve no reason to be nervous. Having a full week to prepare for a possible title bout in Iowa City sounds pretty ideal to me, so long as Indiana takes care of business this week and finishes the regular season a perfect 16-0 in Assembly Hall.