After finishing 1-13 in the Big Ten a year ago, Illinois had the look have a vastly improved team under first year head coach Shauna Green.
The Fighting Illini certainly looked the part on Sunday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, as they took IU to the closing seconds.
Sara Scalia made a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds left to give IU a two possession lead and finally put away Illinois.
The Hoosiers looked like they might run away early after they took a 19-5 first quarter lead. But Illinois chipped away and eventually took multiple second half leads, including a 61-60 edge with 49 seconds remaining.
But IU scored the last five of the game, including a left-handed layup by Mackenzie Holmes to give the Hoosiers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. No. 4/5 Indiana (9-0, 1-0) won it 65-61. Holmes led Indiana with 23 points.
“Hats off to Illinois, that is not the Illinois of old,” IU coach Teri Moren said.
“I am really proud of our group. This was a game where we certainly had to fight, claw, and scratch just to get to the end and get a victory.
“On a night that we didn’t shoot particularly well, but we are going to have nights like that. They can’t all be like the North Carolina nights where everything goes in for us, we have to find different ways to score the ball, but also you just have to get grimy. You hope that your grit shows up and that you can make just enough plays to win the game.”
- Indiana extended its win streak to 14 over the Fighting Illini, winning ever matchup since 2013.
- It also won its fifth-straight Big Ten opener and are now 20-21 in conference debuts.
- Holmes added six rebounds and set a new season-high four blocks.
- Chloe Moore-McNeil scored 10 of her 13 points in the first quarter. She also had three assists and a pair of rebounds.
- Sydney Parrish had her second double-double of the season and third of her career with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Fishers, Ind. native recorded four steals, tying her career high last done against Vermont in the season opener.
- Scalia set a new season high in assists with six while freshman guard Yarden Garzon had nine points, three assists and three rebounds.
IU travels to Penn State on Thursday night. Tipoff at Bryce Jordan Center is slated for 7 p.m. Eastern.
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