Scalia’s sharpshooting seals Indiana’s 72-63 win against Princeton, 2-0 sweep in Florida

  • 11/25/2023 2:53 pm in

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Sara Scalia doesn’t smile when she plays basketball.

She could hit a nothing-but-net 3-pointer from the logo and watch it fall with a straight face before turning and heading back down the court. There might be an air of satisfaction around her, but her expression wouldn’t change.

The occasional and-one call can fire her up, but three seconds after cheering on the floor, she’ll be laser-focused at the free-throw line.

Even when she’s playing her best game in an Indiana uniform, Scalia’s behavior is the same. It’s all business, all the time, for the senior sharpshooter. That’s just how she is.

“She’s a relentless worker,” Teri Moren said. “She’s always in the gym.”

Scalia played her best game as a Hoosier in Indiana’s 72-63 win over Princeton Saturday, with a final stat line of 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. She shot 5-for-9 from beyond the arc and 10-for-17 overall. In the 38 minutes she played, she never truly cracked a smile.

As soon as the buzzer sounded, though, and Yarden Garzon came running up behind her to grab her shoulders in celebration, the smile emerged. But even then, Scalia wasn’t smiling about her accomplishments.

“With this game, we had to fight until the end,” Scalia said. “I think our team really just stuck together and it was good to see all of us on the court just fighting until the end. Obviously this was a huge win for us, so definitely very happy about that.”

Scalia is never one to talk much about her individual success — no one on Indiana is — and chances are she wasn’t even fully aware that she was having such a stellar game until she looked at the stat sheet. Because for her, it’s all about the next play.

Even after hitting a 3-pointer from the logo, which she couldn’t even specifically remember, Scalia just kept moving. She came out red-hot Saturday, sinking three perfect shots from deep to account for nine of Indiana’s 16 first-quarter points.

“When guarding someone like her, you just have to be locked in the whole game,” Princeton’s Kaitlyn Chen said. “You slip up for a second and she makes you pay. She’s just so lethal from outside.”

However, it wasn’t just on the outside where Scalia was a threat. She fought in the paint for rebounds, dove on the ground for steals and cut in to the basket for layups. With under two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Scalia went for a mid-range shot and muscled in toward the basket. She forced an and-one call, and as she yelled on the floor, she displayed the most emotion she had had the entire game.

“We just needed something to kind of get us going,” Scalia said. “That drive at the very end just kind of got us all energized.”

Scalia always brings energy to the floor, but in a very low-key way. She’s not the kind of player who will be yelling out plays or leading huddles, but she doesn’t need to be. What Scalia brings to the Hoosiers is an air of quiet confidence, lethal 3-point shooting and, apparently, a pretty good sense of humor.

“She’s very quiet,” Moren said. “I would categorize her as an introvert. But usually with introverts, they are very funny and witty, and she is that.”

Scalia also apparently has a very large hat collection that she cares deeply about.

“She’s notorious for all of the hats that she wears,” Moren said in a press conference last season. “That’s one of the things that stands out about Sara Scalia.”

The hats, as important as they are, aren’t things Scalia brings with her to games — instead, she sports an instantly recognizable headband. That part of her life is separate from the game, and in a way, it’s a perfect representation of who she is off the court compared to who she is on the court.

There are two sides to Scalia: the witty, hat-loving young woman most people only hear stories about, and the sharpshooter who can pose a threat on all areas of the basketball court that everyone witnesses. But what applies to both sides of Scalia is her newfound confidence.

“I think we’re seeing that she is a very comfortable young lady in our program,” Moren said. “I wish I had her four more years.”

Scalia’s increased belief in herself allows her to do what she does best at the highest level, which only means good things for the Hoosiers. Even if her facial expressions might not show it.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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