Indiana women’s basketball has found its groove.
The Hoosiers took on Nebraska in Lincoln on Sunday, coming off a historic first quarter against Michigan last week that led to a big home win. And they followed that up with one of their strongest overall performances of the season.
IU methodically ran away with Sunday’s game at Pinnacle Bank Arena, leaving with an 91-69 victory.
Indiana (13-1, 4-0 Big Ten) has now won 12 straight games. But head coach Teri Moren said it felt good to play this well in a hostile environment, but she knows she has to keep her team locked in.
“I don’t know that we’ve hit our stride. I hope not. We don’t want to peak too soon. And so it’s our responsibility as a staff to make sure that we’re watching film and we’re still teaching, and we’re still repping the things that we have to in practice and talking to our guys about the improvements that we still have to make,” Moren said after the game. “But we also know that this game can be fickle sometimes, and so we’ve got to make sure that we continue to keep our foot on the pedal. But also, we go back and there’s always some area where we can continue to improve. And we’ll go back and we’ll have to find that before Wednesday, because it’s a short turnaround.”
IU thoroughly dismantled Nebraska (11-4, 3-1) in this battle of previously unbeaten teams in conference play. The Hoosiers put their foot down in the second quarter and never let up. They finished with their best 3-point shooting performance of the season so far, going 14 for 23 as a team from beyond the arc.
The Hoosiers scored 1.338 points per possession, and held a good Cornhuskers squad to 0.92.
IU held a 42-29 lead at halftime. The Hoosiers began their 3-point shooting clinic in the first two quarters, going 8 for 13 from beyond the arc.
The Cornhuskers didn’t give in, as they narrowed the gap during the third quarter thanks to a 16-9 run. But IU responded swiftly with a 14-1 run of its own to close the quarter and remove any doubt about the outcome.
Sydney Parrish led that first-half effort by shooting 5 for 6 from 3-point range. The senior matched her previous season-high of 17 points by halftime, and eclipsed it during the third quarter. Parrish finished with 20 points on a 7-for-11 clip, including a 6-for-7 mark from 3-point range, and she tied Mackenzie Holmes and Sara Scalia for the team lead with six rebounds.
Parrish has taken a back seat in some games this season, as other players have stepped up and driven the bus. She scored fewer than 10 points in nine of Indiana’s 32 games last season; she’s done that in eight of IU’s first 14 games this year. But her outside shot hasn’t gone away, and making some early threes against Michigan has given her a major boost.
“I don’t know if anything’s really changed (the last two games). I think just the confidence that coach and my team has in my shot and being able to just keep shooting, because they had so much confidence in me that it’ll eventually go down,” Parrish said. “Seeing a couple go down last game against Michigan, a lot of shooters just need to see one go in, and then it’ll propel you for the next game.”
Holmes faced one of her toughest assignments of the season thus far, opposing Nebraska star Alexis Markowski inside. The forwards finished pretty even on the stat sheet, but Markowski’s third-quarter foul trouble proved extremely costly for Nebraska.
The graduate student shot 10 for 14 for a team-high 22 points. This was her ninth game of the season with 20 points or more. She committed four turnovers Sunday, making it five straight games with at least three turnovers. But on the whole, Holmes played another strong game.
Scalia also scored in double-figures, shooting 5 for 10 from the field — all from 3-point range — for 19 points. She led the team with seven assists, her most in an IU uniform. The fifth-year is having a tremendous outside shooting season, and her passing and playmaking are starting to hit a new gear as well.
Chloe Moore-McNeil continued her run of strong play with another big day on Sunday. She scored 16 points on a 6-for-7 line, and made both of her attempts from 3-point range. The senior also played tough defense against Nebraska standout Jaz Shelley (6 points on 1-for-7 shooting).
“Chloe’s just so solid for us, night in and night out, on both sides of the ball. I think she’s done a really good job at being more aggressive and hunting her shot, and knocking down those open shots when teams sag off of her. We knew coming into the game that she might’ve been someone whose man might sag off and help in the paint, and she made them pay,” Holmes said. “She had a great night on both sides of the ball as well. She really just is super steady and consistent for us.”
IU returns home to take on Penn State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Wednesday.