Hoosier Nation was on cloud nine entering Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Wednesday evening, as their #9 Indiana Hoosiers squared off against the Northwood Timberwolves in the team’s lone exhibition game, as a prequel to the regular season. The Hoosiers easily routed Northwood 111-63, as expected, but the night took a sad 180 degrees, moments before tip-off.
Immediately before the National Anthem, Hoosier Announcer Jeremy Grey led the Hall into a moment of silence to reflect on the life of Coach Bobby Knight, who had passed away on Wednesday evening prior to the start of the game. (See Article on Bobby Knight)
Coach Knight had been battling health complications for quite a while, but thankfully, made amends with Bloomington a few years back, providing Hoosier Nation the opportunity to see him in Assembly Hall, once again.
Indiana started off on a 10 to nothing start, causing an early Northwood timeout. But then, they went on to put up another 7 before their opponents could catch an offensive break. It wasn’t until the 6-and-a-half-minute mark when the Timberwolves would put up their first point, a free throw following a Sydney Parrish foul in the paint. The 17-1 lead would only multiply, and Indiana would dominate on the boards, with perimeter shooting, and also in transition.
The halftime lead was 65-26 for Indiana, as 3 Hoosiers were already in double-digit points. All-American Graduate Forward Mackenzie Holmes was leading the way, with a perfect half, shooting 11-11 from the field. Holmes’ protégé provided a smooth transition as well. Sophomore Forward Lily Meister played 8 first-half minutes and recorded 4 points and 8 rebounds. Meister was dominant in the paint, demonstrating moves reminiscent of Holmes.
“[Meister] was such a quiet kid last year for us, but she was so productive,” Indiana Head Coach Teri Moren said of her back-up ‘big’. Coach went on to discuss how Meister has been working to add muscle and spending extra practice hours with the staff, working on her game. She was not surprised about the results of her first gametime minutes at the Hall this season.
The second half was more of the same, with the Hoosier’s bench continuing to see plenty of minutes. All 12 players saw time during the night, and 11 of them put up numbers in the scoring column. Sophomore Guard Lexi Bargesser led the IU offense for the majority of the second half, playing 16 of the 20 minutes. She would go on to score 11 points and add 7 assists for the game.
With about 6-and-a-half minutes to play, Indiana reached triple digits scoring.
The team looked great on both sides of the ball, and it was great to see Coach Moren experiment with bench combinations. While the trio of Hoosier newcomers showed a few nerves, playing in front of an Assembly Hall audience for the first time, they also provided great promise as the team leaders for the years to come.
The Hoosiers finished the evening with 111 points (68 in the paint), shooting 63% from the field, pulling down 46 rebounds, stealing the ball 9 times, and adding 30 team assists . . . this is not a typo . . . 30 assists! All of this, while committing onliy 10 turnovers for the evening.
Holmes ended with 28 points (14-14) and 7 boards, Graduate Guard Sara Scalia scored 17 (6-10 from beyond the arc), Senior Guard Sydney Parrish scored 14, Sophomore Guard Yarden Garzon scored 12 points and added 4 assists, and Senior Point Guard Chloe Moore-McNeil scored 2 points and assisted 10 times.
The Timberwolves had a rough first half, and while they were in no condition to be competitive, they played some quality basketball in the second half. They finished with 3 players in double figures, nailed 12-20 from beyond the arc, and hit 8 of 9 free throw attempts.
Northwood hustled and never backed down from Indiana. They were out-played, but not out-classed. They look to have the will and the hunger required to compete in the G-Mac and compete for a conference title.
Up next, the Hoosiers kick off the regular season against Eastern Illinois, 7pm on Thursday, November 9th.