IU women roll as Holmes sets school scoring record


BLOOMINGTON It was a Super Sunday for the Indiana University women’s basketball team hours before the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers kicked off in the Super Bowl on Sunday evening.

No one had more to celebrate than Mackenzie Holmes on the day she became the Hoosiers’ all-time leading scorer, but as so often has occurred during the career of the graduate student from Gorham, Maine, she carried her teammates along for the joy ride.

Much like the occurrences in nature when rivers run together, this was a confluence of happy circumstances for IU inside Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers simply overwhelmed rival Purdue 95-62, meaning they beat the Boilermakers every time during Holmes’ career.

Holmes scored 17 points, just what she needed to eclipse former points record-holder Tara Buss (2014-2018) by one with 2,365 points, in an event marked by standing ovations and a scoreboard tribute.

This also marked the ninth straight season the 20-3 Hoosiers have won at least 20 games in coach Teri Moren’s 10-year career as boss. Senior guard Chole Moore-McNeil scored a career-best 22 points. And they all put on the show in front of a big crowd of 13,304 fans.

As a bonus, the defending regular-season Big Ten Conference champs moved within one game of Iowa in the standings when the Hawkeyes fell 82-79 to Nebraska as the Caitlin Clark Eras Tour skipped a beat in her pursuit of the all-time NCAA scoring record. She is seven points behind tying Kelsey Plum after scoring zero points in the fourth quarter.

The 14th-ranked Hoosiers have lost only to the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 ranked teams in this week’s Associated Press poll.

Perhaps it was the Indiana lady hoopsters who should have been in Las Vegas, not the football teams, taking advantage of good luck on the slot machines.

“I’m just really thankful,” Holmes said of her achievement. “I knew it was in reach for me. I knew I was close.”

Everyone in the building did. Normally, Holmes is IU’s high scorer, but Moore-McNeil and guard Sara Scalia (19 points) were on this day, and in the fourth quarter of a rout, some wondered how long Holmes and other starters might remain on the floor.

Not to worry. Moren said Holmes was breaking the record on this day.

“Oh yeah, we were getting it one way or the other,” Moren said. “Oh, wow! The crowd was amazing. Such a special day. I’m so happy for Mac.”

Purdue (10-13) hung around for a quarter, down just 18-14, helped most by Mary Ashley Stevenson (16 points). But it was 41-30 at halftime, and IU erupted for a 31-point third quarter featuring seven three-pointers. It is part of women’s games routines workers throw souvenir T-shirts into the stands after the Hoosiers make a three. They were flying into the stands so quickly, they seemed like a swarm of mosquitoes.

IU guard Lexus Bargesser was also in double figures with 12 points and contributed nine rebounds and three assists with forward Sydney Parrish out for a sixth straight game because of a foot injury.

“She has grown up,” Moren said of Bargesser.

Approaching Wednesday night’s game at Wisconsin, Indiana has won five of six games without Parrish, a double-figure scorer. Moren said Parrish participated in the team shootaround Sunday and may play again soon.

“She’s making a lot of progress,” Moren said. “She keeps getting better.”

Another way IU has coped with Parrish’s absence is increased scoring from Moore-McNeil (who also had five assists) looking for her own shot more often than feeding everyone else.

“We asked her to be more aggressive,” Moren said.

Moore-McNeil was aggressive enough to nail three three-pointers in a row in that energetic third quarter.

Moore-McNeil chose to join the chorus praising Holmes rather than dwelling on her own emergence.

“Mac is an exceptional player,” Moore-McNeil said. “She amazes me every time she steps on the court.”

Longtime players like Holmes and Moore-McNeil have contributed since Moren’s leadership uplifted IU from 15-16 during her first season in 2010-11 to where 20 wins is routine, NCAA tournament appearances are expected and five-digit attendance figures are common.

“It’s amazing the culture coach Moren has built,” Holmes said.

Although Holmes refrained from talking about the scoring record except when cornered by the media fans knew. When Holmes made a layup following a pass into the low post from Yarden Garzon with 5 minutes, 15 seconds to go, spectators gave her a standing ovation.

When play stopped at the next whistle, fans stood and cheered again. When Lily Meister subbed in for Holmes, she hugged Holmes. Moren did so, as well, as she ran to a seat on the bench and Garzon stood up from the bench to hug Holmes.

When the game ended, a video tribute played on the overhead scoreboard, including a congratulatory message from Buss, the former record-holder. And as the Hoosiers departed the court, remaining fans chanted, “Mac! Mac! Mac!”

Earlier in the game, someone in the stands waved a handmade sign reading, “Mac’s Moment.” It definitely was that.

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