Alright, I know the first thing on your mind. The first quarter.
Here’s what’s up: Indiana hadn’t played a basketball game in like two weeks, was missing its leading scorer and Tennessee Tech, particularly Maaliya Owns, was hitting 3-pointers at an astounding rate that was bound to level out at some point.
Indiana was also just missing some gimme layups at the rim that go down if Mackenzie Holmes is available. Weird cold streak.
That’s literally it.
Water always finds its level and it did toward the end of the first half with the Hoosiers locking in on defense and shots starting to fall. Indiana was never in any real danger here, the disadvantage was just too great for Tennessee Tech to overcome.
Tennessee Tech’s tallest starter, listed as a 6-0 forward, was just an inch taller than Indiana’s shortest starter, Chloe Moore-McNeil, a guard. That size advantage would’ve meant a lot more with Holmes getting to work in the post, but Indiana found a way to make it work regardless.
Freshman Lilly Meister may have replaced Holmes in the starting lineup, but Indiana didn’t ask her to play that role. Which, yeah, you can’t ask a freshman to replace arguably the best post scorer in the country.
Meister performed admirably, communicative on defense and hitting three of her four field goal attempts. She was aided by the presence of Alyssa Geary in relief along with Sydney Parrish’s ability to drive into the paint and Grace Berger’s midrange.
Additionally, Berger is capable of taking over a game on her own. If she can’t create her own shot or drive to the basket she’s gonna find someone who can or an open shooter on the arc.
Indiana outscored Tennessee Tech 44-16 in the paint and held the Golden Eagles to single digit scoring in the second and fourth quarters after settling in. The Hoosiers won the game, like they were supposed to, without their leading scorer.
They have experience doing so, missing Holmes for a long stretch of games last season and having to make up for Berger’s absence earlier this season.
That being said, Holmes’ absence is going to matter much more in later games. Per Seth Tow, Holmes has been practicing and was out today as a precaution.
“I’m being evaluated day by day,” Holmes said after the game. “So we’ll see how things go today, tomorrow, and then they’ll make a decision for Monday.”
Moren added that Holmes has been limited throughout the week, was available today if needed and that she feels optimistic on the situation heading into Indiana’s second round matchup on Monday.
The main takeaways from today are that Indiana knocked some rust off, is optimistic about its leading scorer on Monday and, if things don’t go well there, have plenty of other ways to win games.