Photos by Nick Jenkinson
by, Skip Daley South Central Indiana News Network
In their home game white jerseys, #21 Indiana (5-1) took to Suncoast Arena for their second game in the 2023 Ft. Myers Tip-off Tournament. The Hoosiers were granted a day of rest after defeating #19 Tennessee on Thanksgiving Day before the 11 am match-up against Princeton (4-2), who won decisively on Thursday, themselves, against #22 Oklahoma.
Before the game set way, the audience got to hear a familiar Hoosier voice. Now retired, Legendary Hoosier Announcer Chuck Crabb was in attendance to deliver the starting line-up for Indiana.
“I was pretty honored that John Vittas, the Public Address announcer, asked me to help out and be included,” said Chuck Crabb. “It was a special opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. Chloe and Mackenize are the only two I had announced, and it was a real treat to introduce the current five. There were some butterflies as it has been a while, since January of 2022, that I introduced my last Indiana starting lineup.”
Crabb added, “I miss so many people in Indiana, and to announce five names and the Head Coach is reliving a special part of my life. It’s not often that Indiana teams come down [to Florida], but it’s nice and special to see them when they do.”
From the onset, Princeton had a plan. Their plan was one that is not too uncommon, and it was to limit the touches of IU All-American Graduate Forward Mackenzie Holmes, and to double her up when she did receive the ball. That plan was foiled by the quick footwork and ambidexterity of Holmes with the ball in the paint. Holmes demonstrated patience and great vision.
“I thought Mackenzie (Holmes) handled herself in a great way out of the double,” said IU Head Coach Teri Moren. “It was a very physical game once again, and it’s been a very physical tournament, with officials we had never seen and weren’t used to.”
With 2:34 remaining in the first half, Holmes performed a double team, herself, as she joined Guard Lexus Bagesser in the low post to force the Tiger travel. IU looked great on both fronts in the first half.
Indiana had a lead of 20 with seconds remaining in the half, but Princeton’s star Guard Madison Rose dropped a triple, bringing the midway score to 41-24 with the Hoosiers on top.
Indiana moved the ball fluidly, getting many touches before finding their shot. They would compile 61.5% accuracy from the field in the first half and went 6 of 9 from the perimeter. Graduate Guard Sara Scalia would continue her recent reign of offensive terror, putting up 18 points in the first 20 minutes of play, with Holmes not far behind, dropping 15.
Princeton adjusted in the locker room, and inched their way back in the 3rd quarter, bringing it to within 11. The Tigers offered the full-court press to slow down IU, and it successfully knocked them out of their rhythm.
Continued pressure combined with sluggish Indiana defense in the 4th quarter had the Tigers within 6 points with 8 minutes to play. It appeared as if the Hoosier foul difficulty put a damper in their prowess, allowing Princeton to compete at a stronger level.
Senior Forward Sydney Parrish would make her way back into the game with about 4 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. She picked up 3 first-half fouls, so was forced to watch from the sidelines for quite a while throughout the second half. Sophomore Guard Yarden Garzon would also pick up a 3rd foul, forcing Coach Moren to once again, dig into the bench.
The last 4 minutes had the Hoosiers up by 9 with the ball. They barely escaped a shot clock violation, with Holmes throwing it up at the last possible moment, but it missed.
Princeton would score, and then held IU to a second consecutive possession without a decent shot, this one being a shot clock turn-over. With 1:44 remaining, Garzon nailed a 3, but Princeton would match that, keeping Hoosier Nation on their toes in the final minutes.
With a minute and 20 seconds to go, Scalia drove into the lane to throw up a short pull-up, taking the foul. She added the freebie from the stripe, putting Indiana back up by 10. That play was inspirational and quite necessary to swing the momentum back to IU for the closing moments of the game.
The Hoosiers went on to win 72-63, advancing to 5-1 on the season.
Princeton played well and showed the Hoosiers a lot of different defensive looks. This was the first win of the season for Indiana where they had to keep the starting five in the line-up until the waning seconds. Indiana demonstrated fantastic teamwork in this hard-fought second win on the road.
The game was also a milestone for Holmes, as she became the second player in program history to record 2,000 career points. She bucketed 20 today along with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks.
Scalia logged the high point total for the day, with 28. She added 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals in 38 minutes of play. Collectively, the Hoosiers shot 52% from the field, 9-18 from the arc, 7-9 from the free-throw line, pulled down 30 rebounds, and committed 14 turnovers.
Princeton, who fell to 4-2 on the season, were led by Kaitlyn Chen with 16 points. The Tigers shot 42%, went 3-6 from the 3-point line, and had 34 rebounds, and 10 steals. They will host Seton Hall (4-2) this coming Wednesday.
Next up, the Hoosiers will travel to Portland to face Maine on Thursday, November 30th at Cross Insurance Arena.