Assembly Hall thrives in Indiana’s back-and-forth NCAA tournament victory

Photo Courtesy: Indiana Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, IN – There were a lot of lasts in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall tonight, but the Hoosiers’ last game of the 2024 NCAA tournament is not one of them.  

No. 4 Indiana defeated No. 5 Oklahoma in the Round of 32, 75-68, securing an undefeated record at home and punching their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen in Albany, NY.  

That was in part due to the sixth player on the court, the fans of Hoosier Nation.  

The crowd of fans in Assembly Hall that spanned from the lower bowl up to the top of the rafters made their presence known until long after the very final buzzer.  

“It never gets old how grateful we are,” said Coach Teri Moren, “We needed everybody that was in the Hall tonight and they showed up big and gave us the energy and the push to get to the finish line.” 

That energy kept Assembly Hall alive when Indiana went down by as many as seven points in the third quarter, typical Mackenzie Holmes shots were not going down, and the Hoosiers could not find an open Sara Scalia three-pointer.  

That energy sent Mackenzie Holmes into a fourth quarter huddle fired up. 

“Mackenzie had a lot of emotion, a lot of energy in the huddle,” said senior Sydney Parrish. “We just tried to keep her calm a bit. We just trust each other and believe in each other.” 

Trust has been a crucial factor in Indiana’s success this season and in the team’s ability to lean on each other in back and forth matches like this one. On more than one occasion, it has seen multiple players have standout nights.  

Tonight was Mackenzie Holmes’ 29 points and Sydney Parrish’s eight rebounds and five assists. It was Sara Scalia going 7-8 from the free throw line and Yarden Garzon putting up four points to give the Hoosiers their largest lead of the game. 

“We have so many threats, we’re so well balanced and I think it’s just our maturity level and our composure and the competitiveness that we have that we are never going to quit no matter what the score is,” said graduate student Mackenzie Holmes. 

Hoosier fans never quit on them either. With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the entire building was on their feet anticipating the next play.  

After Sara Scalia hit two free throws to give Indiana the 70-64 lead to the Sooners, you could barely hear the whistle blow on the next call.  

Those cheers held on until long after the final buzzer, but this time at the hands of Mackenzie Holmes, who led her team into the student section to say one final thank you to the fans of Assembly Hall. 

“I just want them to know how much I love them. They’re the best fans in the country, and I have been so blessed every second I’ve gotten to play in the Hall, and I will never take those moments for granted,” said Holmes. 

“She was a little bit emotional after the game,” said Coach Moren. “Listening — the band was playing and so forth, this place has meant the world to her. And she is meant the world to us.” 

While the MVP Arena in Albany is not Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, there is no doubt that the fans of Hoosier Nation will be cheering for Indiana just as loud, from Bloomington.

Photo Courtesy: Indiana Athletics