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Indiana women advance to Sweet Sixteen after thriller in Assembly Hall

Hoosiers advance to Sweet Sixteen

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Thriller doesn’t even begin to describe the second round matchup between four-seed Indiana and five-seed Oklahoma in the NCAA Women’s Tournament on Monday night.

The Hoosiers outlasted 21 lead changes to knock the Sooners out, 75-68. Indiana advances to the program’s third Sweet Sixteen.

Neither team ever had a definitive advantage after 38 minutes of trading buckets. The Hoosiers hit their stride at the right time — with a tie game and 90 seconds on the clock. Three straight costly turnovers by Oklahoma and a 15-4 Indiana run helped the Hoosiers take their largest lead of the game, and they never gave it back.

“I just want to talk a lot about Hoosier nation and them showing up tonight,” head coach Teri Moren said postgame. “It never gets old to say how grateful we are. We needed everybody that was in the Hall tonight and they showed up big and gave us the energy, and the push to get to the finish line.”

It was a strong finish for a rocky start.

Indiana started the game flat and disjointed. The Hoosiers came into the game the best shooting team in the country, averaging 51% from the floor. Against the Sooners, Indiana made only 32.4% of shots in the first half. Oklahoma took a 30-29 lead into the break.

The Sooners went on the longest run of the game (which still wasn’t very long) to go up seven in the third quarter, but they couldn’t hold the Hoosiers at bay.

The Hoosiers got into a groove in the fourth quarter. Senior Mackenzie Holmes scored 20 of her game-high 29 points in the second half — 12 in the fourth frame alone.

Indiana’s Sydney Parrish and Sara Scalia also finished in double figures — Parrish with 17, Scalia with 12.

“We just trust each other, and we believe in each other,” Parrish said. “We know that with those lead changes that go back and forth. We knew it was going to be a really close game going into the fourth quarter as well, and just trusting each other and Mac[kenzie Holmes] had a matchup that I don’t know anyone in the country can stop her in the fourth quarter, obviously, and so we just kept getting it to her, and she took us to the end of that game.”

“It’s hard to put into words how much this place means to me,” Holmes said. “Just taking it all in and taking no moment for granted and knowing that I’ve gotten to play my last game here and it was a very, very special one.”

This was a statement win for Indiana, who was upset as a No. 1 seed by 9-seed Miami last year in the second round. That last-second heartbreaker has been stuck in the Hoosiers’ minds, and served as motivation against the Sooners.

“It’s bothered us, it really has,” Moren said. “If that gave them some extra motivation, that very well could have, you know, I selfishly wanted Mac and Sara and Arielle to win their last game in the Hall, but to be able to do it for a trip to the Sweet 16 makes it even sweeter.”

“It feels awesome,” Scalia said. “We all had a chip on our shoulder from the feeling that we felt last year. We’re all coming into this game really motivated that we didn’t want what happened last year to happen again. So I think that was the biggest thing, that we don’t want to experience that. Tonight we played with confidence, we played together, and we got the win so it’s good.”

The Hoosiers head to Albany, New York, for a Sweet Sixteen matchup with the region’s No. 1 seed South Carolina, who has been dominating opponents so far. The Gamecocks won their first and second round games by an average of 49.5 points.

That game will be Saturday at a time to be determined.