Teri Moren didn’t mince words.
With the way her Hoosiers played, there was no way she could. No. 9 Indiana women’s basketball came out completely flat on Sunday at No. 15 Stanford. The Cardinal set the tone early and ran away with a 96-64 win.
Yes, it was only game two of a long season for IU. But this was one of the biggest games on its non-conference schedule.
The Hoosiers didn’t quit — it wasn’t an effort problem. But it was ugly, and Moren knew it.
“Really, it was just a good old-fashioned butt-kicking,” Moren said after the game. “I thought Stanford was terrific. We had some good moments, but certainly, we need a lot of really good moments to beat a team like that, that had the combination going on of inside and outside today. I’m still proud of our kids, we’re going to learn from it, it was a great early matchup for us, great test. There’s certainly a lot of things we’ve got to get better at and improve, and this game proves that and showed that to us.”
Mackenzie Holmes was uncharacteristically ineffective, shooting just 25 percent from the field. Since the beginning of her junior year, the 2021-22 season, she’s shot that inefficiently in just two other games.
Stanford took her out of the game with All-American forward Cameron Brink, and Indiana handled it poorly. It led to a lot of broken possessions that ended in a forced 3-pointer or a desperate 1-on-1 attempt. Meanwhile, the Cardinal got almost anything they wanted on the other end, and shot so well — 47 percent from 3-point range, 53 percent from the field in the first half — that they blew the game open.
Moren’s team didn’t fracture, but she was hoping for a better response.
“I think in the first timeout, our kids, especially Chloe (Moore-McNeil) was trying to really be encouraging. They got off to a hot start, that was their run, and now we needed to come back and and have our own run. But they just kept knocking down shots,” Moren said. “I thought we looked better in the second half, I thought we looked more settled in. They punched us right from the start. And we didn’t respond in the right way. We didn’t. But it’s a lesson learned. It’s a long game. You have to make the next right step. And it took us a while to make the next right step.”
This IU team has an interesting mix of veteran experience and youth. The starting lineup is mostly the same as last year’s group that won the Big Ten outright, but the reserves are mostly underclassmen with little to no experience in this sort of spotlight.
But these sorts of blowout losses aren’t something anyone in the program is used to. This is the most lopsided loss IU women’s basketball has suffered since February 2017.
Moren and senior guard Sydney Parrish weren’t so much depressed or heartbroken in the postgame press conference as they were disappointed and frustrated. They know they were up against a very good opponent, and that it’s extremely unlikely to go undefeated. But the way this loss played out left them feeling — and knowing — they have to do better.
IU has four days to right the ship before a two-game homestand against Murray State on Friday and Lipscomb on Sunday. And then IU will take on No. 11 Tennessee and a tough Princeton team during Thanksgiving week in Fort Myers, Fla.
So the road isn’t getting easier for the Hoosiers. They know they’ll have to learn from this experience.
“I think (this game) opened up the eyes of the younger players on our team, our freshmen and transfers, and even some of our sophomores who haven’t played in big games like this before, just realizing that any team that comes to play us is going to give it their all,” Parrish said. “I think we just have to stick together through this. It’s a really tough loss, but all we can do right now is learn from it, and we have two more games this week and next weekend. So just learn from the film this week, and get back, and adjust our defensive game plans, and just get better from it.”