Scalia and Holmes combine for 49 points as IU takes down #4 Iowa in front of sold-out crowd

#14 Indiana was looking to protect their unblemished home court record and get back into the race for the Big Ten Conference regular season title on Thursday evening as they hosted #4 Iowa in front of a sold out Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

The evening was billed as a “White-out” where Hoosier Nation was asked to don their white dominated fanwear, although there was a significant amount of Yellow and black in the Hall. The Iowa fans I spoke with came from Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, paying what one can only imagine to catch a glimpse of their beloved #22, Caitlyn Clark.

The Hoosiers wore their Adidas Fear of God dark Grey uniforms that had red trim. This was a one-time special uniform similar to what the Men’s Basketball team wore earlier in the week.

Mick Foley @ Assembly Hall

And the audience included celebrities of all sorts, including former IU superstars Victor Oladipo and Grace Berger. Oladipo received a standing ovation as he appeared courtside and took selfies with the crowd. Berger received a huge reaction when placed on the jumbotron.

Also, in attendance for the game, wearing a Caitlyn Clark t-shirt, was comedian and former professional wrestler Mick Foley, who said he made the 8 hour drive to Bloomington so he wouldn’t regret missing the opportunity to watch Clark play at the collegiate level, and to also see an “amazing IU team.”

Indiana looked intense from the onset and electrified the crowd on offense early on. Graduate Guard Sara Scalia dropped an early three off of an assist by Parrish, skipping back on defense while raising her hands to Hoosier Nation.

And then IU foreshadowed their defensive dominance when Sydney Parrish had a huge block at the 7:45 mark and a transitional bucket to follow.

But Iowa does not simply bough to good basketball. The Hawkeyes kept it tight, keeping pace with an energized Indiana team.

Holmes tied up the game and added one for good measure at the 5:55 mark in the first, in this back-and-forth battle. Indiana forced a few turnovers, and a minute later had a 13-9 lead. This match-up was looking like everything it was billed to be, as these two recent rivals jumped in head first.

With 6.9 seconds remaining in the 1st quarter, a phantom foul was called to put Clark on the line. She drilled both shots. But IU Senior Guard Chloe Moore-McNeil received the inbound pass near half court and attempted a mid-range jumper that missed. The rebound landed in the hands of Sophomore Guard Lexi Bargesser, who threw up a quick 14-footer at the buzzer. The ball bounced off the rim, rolled around, and dropped, giving Indiana a 23-21 lead.

Chloe Moore-McNeil battles Caitlin Clark at Assembly Hall on 2/22/24

The second quarter was extremely physical, as Iowa’s Hannah Stuelke and Holmes battled it out in the paint, while Moore-McNeil stuck like glue with Clark. With just over 4 minutes remaining in the first half, Moore-McNeil picked up a third personal foul, however. Indiana Head Coach Teri Moren would mix-up the coverage on Clark, keeping her guessing. The strategy was having an obvious impact on the superstar, as she struggled from the field.

With 3 minutes left, however, Indiana found their way up 10. Clark nailed another triple, cutting down IU’s advantage, but Hoosier Nation had some fun after a Clark miss, chanting “Air-Ball.” This would continue throughout the game. She then had a redemption chance with the final shot of the half, but mis-aligned her contested 3-pointer. Indiana took their 44-33 lead into the locker room.

In the 3rd quarter, Indiana had pulled ahead by 16, but Iowa implemented a zone defense that gave IU some trouble offensively. At the end of the quarter, the Hoosiers had an 8-point advantage with 10 minutes left to play in the game.

Even up by 8, this battle of the titans would prove to be a nail-biter to the finish line, as there is never a comfortable lead against this incredibly talented Hawkeye team.

With 6:06 left in the game, Indiana was up 13 and Yarden Garzon got called for a travel inside the paint, a call that had Hoosier Nation in an uproar. The referees seemed to be picking and choosing how they would call the fourth quarter; not necessarily to any particular team’s advantage, but just inconsistently.

Parrish would soon get called for her third foul for an offensive push-off, away from the ball. And about 30 seconds later, she picked up her fourth, rebounding a miss from Clark.

Indiana was up by 13, but dangerously close to losing momentum.

A give and go inside the paint from Moore-McNeil to Holmes with about 2 and a half to play excited the crowd. A free throw by Moore-McNeil would add another point, and then the Hoosiers were visibly enjoying themselves as Scalia, once again, throwing her hands up in victory for the Hall to enjoy after dropping another triple.

Iowa seemingly conceded the game with about 1:20 remaining, as they removed Clark from the game, as to not allow her to get hurt.

Indiana played out the clock with their bench, to a deafening applause from the sold-out Hall. They went on to win decisively . . . . 86-69.

The Hoosiers celebrated on the court after the game and were very conscientious of Hoosier Nation, who were instrumental in setting the tone for the game through their presence.

Players walked around and greeted fans around the outside of the court, and there were hundreds of hugs and countless smiles to go around.

Next up, Indiana will head to Evanston, Ill. to take on Northwestern on Tuesday for a 7pm tip-off.