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No. 14 Indiana stuns No. 4 Iowa in front of sell-out crowd

ASSEMBLY HALL — Bloomington was buzzing for the top-15 matchup between No. 14 Indiana and No. 4 Iowa, and the game did not disappoint. The Hoosiers maintained their undefeated record at home with a stunning 86-69 win over the Hawkeyes. The sold-out Assembly Hall crowd of 17,222 was in full voice. 

“People have said the ‘Caitlin Clark effect’ and that probably has somewhat to do with it, but I also think that our fanbase has continued to come out and support us, and so once again we’re grateful,” said Teri Moren. 

“The adrenaline you just get from the noise and the fans in Assembly Hall, I can’t really explain the feeling. It’s really incredible,” said Mackenzie Holmes.

Caitlin Clark entered the day averaging 29 points per game in her seven career games against Indiana, but Thursday was different. Despite falling an assist short of a triple-double, Clark had just 24 points, her lowest tally in Big Ten play this season. With two minutes left in the first half, Clark hit a three-pointer. She would go on to miss her final nine from deep. Her 3-16 from beyond the arc was her second-lowest percentage of the season. 

“Just very physical, that was the main thing. Kinda pushed me off my spots, got me a little deeper than I wanted to be,” Clark said of the Hoosier defense. 

“I think we made everything very difficult for Caitlin Clark tonight, and that’s hard to do,” said Moren.

Instead, it was a different sharpshooter that stole the show. Sara Scalia led all scorers with 25 points, tying her best performance in conference play. Scalia hit three three-pointers, including a right-sided shot which Moren described as the dagger. 

“We didn’t have an answer for Sara Scalia tonight. She was really good tonight,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder.

Last month in Iowa City Iowa’s non-Clark starters combined for 45 points, on Thursday they had 25. While Indiana was able to slow Clark compared to her lofty standards, the limiting of the supporting cast was equally as important. 

“We knew [Clark] was going to get hers, she was going to get 25, 30, 40 points, whatever it looked like, but we had a goal in mind to one, make it an inefficient 30, 40 points, and two, keep the others out of it,” said Holmes. 

With two top teams and an energetic sold-out crowd, emotions throughout Assembly Hall were heightened. The game featured extra back-and-forth talk between opposing players, staredowns after blocks, and a technical assessed to the usually mild-mannered Scalia for taunting. 

“When you’re playing against the top teams in the Big Ten and you know one loss, one win, can switch up the standings and switch up battling for a regular season title, that’s exactly how it should be. That’s exactly what women’s basketball should be. It should be heated, it should be that way. That’s just because people care so much and people are so passionate about winning,” said Clark. “That’s what makes basketball fun.”

“We know it’s an emotional game. Things are going to happen throughout the game. People are going to say things, do things, but at the end of the day it’s all about the five of us on the floor staying together throughout the tough moments,” said Holmes. 

For the first time in eight games, Sydney Parrish was in the starting five. Parrish finished with seven points, six of which came on back-to-back threes in the third quarter. She added six rebounds to the mix along with the intangibles that her teammates and Moren have highlighted during her entire Indiana career. 

“Having Sydney back was huge for us, especially down the stretch. She just makes those hustle plays, gives us those second chance opportunities that we really missed,” Holmes said of Parrish.  

The win was a necessary resume builder for the Hoosiers after their loss in Champaign on Monday threatened their chances at hosting first and second-round NCAA tournament games. 

“You lose a game like Illinois and you think ‘oh wow, our backs are against the wall,’” said Moren “I think we had to have this one tonight to help us with our resume.” 

As for the Big Ten standings, Indiana moves to second with a 13-3 record, half a game above Iowa and one and a half behind leaders Ohio State. 

Indiana heads to Northwestern on Tuesday, November 27 for their final road clash before the season finale on March 3 against Maryland at Assembly Hall.