The last time these two teams faced off on a basketball court, it ended with a tearful Indiana huddle as black and yellow confetti descended from the rafters at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Big Ten Tournament Championship loss was Indiana’s third to Iowa on the season. The Hoosiers dropped home and away matchups against the Hawkeyes before falling just short during their tournament run.
The story was in the post. Indiana’s best scoring option, Mackenzie Holmes, wasn’t yet fully recovered from a prior injury and was tasked with a matchup against Monika Czinano. The action in the post spread to the arc, as Holmes lacked a reliable, go-to shooter to keep the Hawkeyes from crowding the paint to stop her.
Nobody knew that more than Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, who noted it as the biggest difference between last year’s Indiana team and this one.
“You didn’t have three point shooters you had to worry about last year, now you do,” Bluder said following the game.
This year, Holmes is fully healthy and can find one of Yarden Garzon, Sara Scalia, Sydney Parrish and Chloe Moore-McNeil on the arc.
“Anytime you have floor spacers on the outside, things open up for Mackenzie,” Moren said in a postgame press conference.
Holmes’ 24 points, Indiana’s 7-14 clip from the arc and an all-around performance from Grace Berger combined to lead No. 2 Indiana past No. 5 Iowa on Thursday night.
The Hoosiers needed all the offensive firepower they could muster against Caitlin Clark, the Big Ten’s leading scorer in points per game with 27.6. Additionally, Indiana had to find a new matchup for Clark this year with Nicole Cardaño-Hillary having graduated and currently playing professionally in Spain.
Those duties, as they have throughout the season, fell on Chloe Moore-McNeil. She didn’t have to do so alone, with Scalia and others providing help throughout the game. The result? 35 points and 10 assists from Clark, with 8 turnovers.
But Clark can’t beat the Hoosiers by herself, and the margins were where Iowa fell short. Czinano, who helped cement all three of Iowa’s wins last season, managed just 6 points working against Holmes. The supporting cast added just 43 points to Clark’s 35 with only three other Hawkeyes scoring more than 6.
Then there was Berger.
The Hoosiers’ leader added 26 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and had just a single turnover in 39 minutes of play on the night. When the Hoosiers needed a play, they knew just where to go.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching her long enough to know when she’s sort of in that zone where she has a willingness about her to try and take over, really will her team to a victory,” Moren said. “I thought tonight she was really, really good.”
Indiana’s win cements its first place position in the Big Ten standings as the Hoosiers continue their record setting 23-1 start to the season.