Indiana women’s basketball escaped their Big Ten tournament quarterfinal matchup with No. 9-seed Michigan State by a score of 94-85 earlier this afternoon. The win sends the Hoosiers to the semis where they’ll meet No. 4-seed Ohio State.
Today’s game was... strange. 53 total fouls were called and the overall flow of play felt off. Hoosiers got it done though. Here’s three things:
Indiana started out slow
Straight up, the first quarter of this game was one of the least connected I have ever seen Indiana play. The Hoosiers shot 4-14 from the field and committed six turnovers, many of which were head-scratchers. MSU’s press probably factored into this. Indiana struggled with it a little bit in their regular season matchup and once again seemed like they had one too many things to think about while handling the ball. It was frustrating to watch and a couple comically bad misses on either end didn’t make the first ten minutes that much easier to digest.
Michigan State also randomly turned into the NBA’s 2016 Golden State Warriors for like 15 minutes? The Spartans hit eight triples in the first half. Everything was going in for them. Kamaria McDaniel and Julia Ayrault combined to go 5-5 from three and gave MSU a 40-34 lead at the half. Hoosier fans were not feeling good!
They didn’t let it matter
Yeah, Michigan State got up early, but it didn’t matter because Indiana went Indiana mode. For the fifth or sixth time this season, Indiana flipped a switch at half and (finally) started hitting shots. They shot 15-29 (55.2%) and 8-14 (57.1%) from three in the second half and got all their confidence back after seeing the ball go in a couple times. I knew the game was over when Sydney Parrish hit this:
Swish. @sydney_parrish | #IUWBB pic.twitter.com/JNlJNijHk9— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) March 3, 2023
I’m honestly willing to chalk up the shooting in the first half to depth perception adjustment. The Target Center is an NBA arena so the venue has a lot more space behind the basket compared to Assembly Hall or Mackey or whatever the hell the Vegas “ballroom” was. Sometimes it takes a minute for shooters to get their eyes right.
In other news, Mackenzie Holmes was awesome. The newly minted Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year put up 28 despite being on a heavy minutes restriction. Sara Scalia also lived up to her preseason billing, coming off the bench to score 20 and go 4-6 from three in front of a ton of family and friends. Chloe Moore-McNeil, who set career-highs in points with 19 and assists with 11, was excellent as well.
In all, the Hoosiers shot 55% from three and made 30 (!!) free throws. 22 assists to MSU’s 10 also helped them get it done, this game felt close for a very long time but Big Ten Refs Plan had more to do with that than Michigan State did. No disrespect to the pesky Spartans of course.
I also want to commend Alyssa Geary, who hasn’t found herself in the rotation all that often but is a fantastic locker room presence and leader. It was great to see her step up when needed and keep everyone in check.
There was A LOT to critique in this game, but the beautiful thing about postseason tournament basketball is that the nitty gritty doesn’t really matter. Did you score more points than the other team? Yes? Mission accomplished. Survive and advance!
Browne went down with an injury after a brief appearance.
Simply put, there’s not enough words available in this article to fully explain what Browne means to this team on and off the court. Last year it was her stepping up when the Hoosiers lost Holmes to injury and playing admirable basketball on defense to keep Indiana in the win column on a consistent basis.
She’s been injured this year, but don’t think for a second that means she doesn’t deserve credit for the Hoosiers’ marvelous season. This is a very, very close team that’s gotten to know each other well over the years and Browne is no exception to that.
She’s always providing good energy on the bench and behind the scenes to keep the team’s spirits up. She’ll show up to youth basketball events mere hours after Indiana’s games to spend time with the future of the sport.
Browne has given a lot to this program and that deserves to be known among Indiana’s fanbase.