Survive and Dance – Indiana takes down Fairfield 89-56

Lexus Bargesser driving to the rim - Photo: Olivia Bianco IDS

Indiana opened up their NCAA tournament play hosting the #13 seed Fairfield. The Stags entered Assembly Hall with plenty of gusto, coming in with 31-1 record and an MAAC championship. While Indiana escaped with a dominant 89-56 victory, the first 20 minutes had Hoosier fans holding their breath.

After falling in the quarterfinal of the Big 10 Tournament to Michigan, Teri Moren emphasized the importance of preparation and rest headed into their first tournament game.

However, after the opening tip, it seemed as though Indiana may have slept through their alarm. 

The Stags came out flying on both ends of the floor, and both squads continued to trade blows back and forth. At one point, each team clung onto a five-point advantage during the first 20 minutes, but neither was able to pull away.

Fairfield spent just under eight minutes of the first half in control of the scoreboard.

Janelle Brown found ways to carve inside and create space for the Stags in the first half, leading all scorers with 12 points at the intermission.

Brown’s ability to collapse the Hoosier defense opened up the floor, and the Stags connected on eleven three-point attempts, six of which came before the break.

However, in the second half, Indiana woke up with their hair on fire.

Mackenzie Holmes came out of the break with an aggressive style of play. The third team all-american converted on an and-one and fought for another basket on the following possession.

After Holmes set the tone for the second half, Sara Scalia took the reins. Offensively, Scalia certainly led the charge for Indiana, finishing with 27 points and five triples.

While leading the charge, Scalia certainly had plenty of help along the way as well. Four of the five Indiana starters finished with double figures, Holmes, Moore-McNeil, and Garzone all with 13.

Scalia and company capitalized on open looks, but it was the Indiana ball movement that created them. The Hoosiers finished with 25 assists on their 31 made field goals.

Despite an Indiana 51-point second half, the Hoosier gear shift defensively is what especially stood out to the 13,000 in attendance.

After Fairfield made their first three shots coming out of the break, Indiana allowed just 13 points the rest of the way.

“We were off to a little bit of a slow start in the first half at times and I think the biggest thing we just had to lock in defensively and get out to the shooters,” said Scalia.

A Teri Moren basketball team that prides itself defensively, had one of their best performances of the season at one of the most critical junctures of the season.

A much bigger Indiana team began to switch their matchups defensively in the second half and began to disrupt the offensive success Fairfield had in the first half.

“We were trying to slow it down. I mean, that’s what we’ve been, you know, a team that wants to play with freedom but also play with pace,” said Teri Moren.

Once Indiana slowed down the pace of play in the second half, their size advantage was glaring, scoring in the pain, sending back shots, and corralling rebounds. The Hoosiers controlled the battle on the glass, out-rebounding the Stags 44-29.

After the 3rd quarter eruption from Indiana, the crowd in Assembly Hall showed why Indiana has been perfect at home all season long.

“The atmosphere was something that was hard to compete against, couldn’t hear plays being called and couldn’t hear coach on the sideline,” said Janelle Brown.

The Hoosiers will now look ahead to #5 Oklahoma in their round of 32 matchup in Assembly Hall on Monday.