Mackenzie Holmes’ 28 points leads No. 4 Indiana past Minnesota 77-54
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mackenzie Holmes scored 28 points with four blocks and Sydney Parrish added 23 points, eight rebounds and five steals to help No. 4 Indiana beat Minnesota 77-54 on Wednesday night.
Sara Scalia had a happy homecoming against her former team with 10 points and four rebounds for the Hoosiers (21-1, 11-1), who won their ninth straight game to stay in first place in the top-heavy Big Ten. Grace Berger had nine assists despite shooting 2 for 10.
“They’re not by any stretch of the means down there in that locker room right now high-fiving. They don’t think they played well,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said.
Mallory Heyer scored 16 points, Mara Braun had 13 points and Alanna Micheaux added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Gophers (9-13, 2-9), who have lost eight of their last nine games. They’re 0-7 against the top seven teams in the conference with an average losing margin of 21 points.
Holmes, the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer behind Iowa All-American Caitlin Clark, had 10 of her team’s first 12 points and went 12 for 14 from the floor. The 6-foot-3 Holmes polished up her post moves with Micheaux unable to disrupt them and the Gophers usually declining to double-team her.
“She’s confident in herself. She’s confident in her teammates,” Moren said.
Parrish swished 3-pointers from the wing on three of Indiana’s first five second-quarter possessions. Berger’s pullup jumper off the break with 1:57 left before halftime gave the Hoosiers a 41-15 lead, their largest of the game.
The Hoosiers, who this week matched the program’s best-ever ranking in the Associated Press poll, have won by an average of 14 points on their current streak. The closest game was a 68-61 win at now-No. 8 Maryland, which visits No. 6 Iowa on Thursday night for control of second place.
The Gophers, who suffered a season-worst 77-41 loss at home on Sunday afternoon to now-No. 18 Michigan, wound up with another lopsided loss to a conference power. But Braun gave them a spark with a 3-pointer late in the second quarter that spurred a halftime-bridging 11-0 run.
The Gophers got within 52-40 late in the third quarter on another deep ball by Braun before the Hoosiers began to pull away again. Coach Lindsay Whalen was upbeat about her team’s level of competitiveness, but she was miffed by the season-high 29 turnovers.
“You just end up having to overcome too much,” Whalen said.
Scalia, one of two Minnesota natives playing for the Hoosiers along with Lilly Meister, was the leading scorer for the Gophers last season and Whalen’s first recruit after she was hired in 2018.
Scalia transferred with the simple goal of more wins in the stacked Big Ten, hesitant to spend her final two years of eligibility with such a young team. She’s more of a complementary player now, coming off the bench for the last eight games since Berger returned from a knee injury, but the Hoosiers need her outside shooting touch.
Moren recently implored her to keep firing amid a significant slump, with Scalia shooting just 26% from the field (24 for 91) and 19% from 3-point range (8 for 42) in Big Ten games.
“I liked the aggression she played with. I thought she played within herself,” Holmes said. “We know Sara’s a great player, and we’re extremely happy to have her in an Indiana uniform. She means a lot to the whole program, and we have her back in every way, shape or form.”
Indiana: The six regular season games remaining for the Hoosiers are all against teams in the top half of the Big Ten, including two matchups against Iowa. Their lone loss was on Dec. 29 at Michigan State, when Holmes had a career-high 32 points.
Minnesota: Braun and Heyer are two of the seven freshmen on the roster, a heralded class that Whalen and her staff have been banking on to accelerate this long rebuild. The Gophers not only need to take better care of the ball, but they’ve got a long way to go with their shooting too.
Indiana: Visits Purdue on Sunday afternoon.
Minnesota: Visits Illinois on Sunday afternoon.