SIMON SKJODT ASSEMBLY HALL (IUSTV Sports) – In front of a season-high 11,600 fans, 16th-ranked Indiana women’s basketball finished 2023 with a 77-71 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini.
“They get us to the finish line with the energy that they give us. They know when to cheer. They know when we need it the most, and we’re so grateful, once again, that they spent some of their New Year’s Eve day with us,” said Teri Moren.
“You can really feel the energy our fans bring,” said Mackenzie Holmes. “I’ve been an advocate that Hoosier Nation has the best fans in the country and I’ll die on that hill.”
For the third straight game, the Hoosiers had a 30-point performer. Mackenzie Holmes reached the 30-point mark for the fifth time in her career. She tallied an even 30 points, with 13 of them coming in the final quarter.
“It brings me joy, personally, being able to watch the work she puts in every day,” said Chloe Moore-McNeil. “Just being out there with somebody like that, just soak it all in and be grateful for it.”
With 41 seconds remaining, Chloe Moore-McNeil slung a pass across the baseline to Yarden Garzon in the corner. Garzon rattled in a three-pointer to give Indiana a four-point lead and effectively seal the contest. The assist was one of three for Moore-McNeil, which she paired with a career-high tying 19 points.
“Coach (Moren) has been getting onto me to be more aggressive, but that kind of pass is something that we work on literally every single day,” Moore-McNeil said of the assist.
Indiana led by as many as 12, but Illinois was able to even the score in the fourth quarter. Illinois’ late resurgence was due, in large part, to a red-hot second half from senior guard Makira Cook. Cook, who scored 33 points at Assembly Hall last December, finished with 24 points, 17 of which came in the second half.
Illini senior forward Kendall Bostic tallied the only double-double of the afternoon, however, the Hoosiers were able to hold the Big Ten’s most efficient scorer to 50% from the field. Bostic was a key contributor to the Illini leading the Hoosiers in offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
While Moore-McNeil and Holmes carved up the Illini defense, Sydney Parrish and Sara Scalia struggled to find their shooting stroke, combining for just seven points off of 2-16 shooting from the field.
“The conversation is (that) there’s so many ways that you can impact a game when your shot’s not falling. Whether that’s rebounding, playing the stingy defense that we need, assists, setting great screens, just with your energy, your body language. All that matters,” said Teri Moren.
With the win, the Hoosiers move to 2-0 in Big Ten play and 11-1 overall.
Indiana finishes 2023 with a 27-4 record in the calendar year, including eight wins over ranked opponents. The year also saw Indiana receive their first NCAA tournament 1-seed in program history and their second Big Ten regular season title.
The Hoosiers bring a ten-game winning streak into 2024. They will look to extend it on January 4 when they host the Michigan Wolverines.