Seniors shine in regular season finale as Indiana beats Maryland 71-54

  • 03/03/2024 6:37 pm in

Arielle Wisne began the afternoon by singing the national anthem and ended it with an emphatic block. Sara Scalia hit four 3-pointers and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall exploded after every single one. Mackenzie Holmes didn’t miss a shot and received the loudest cheers the IU faithful could give her.

It was Senior Day, and it was the seniors’ day.

Indiana’s regular-season finale was highly anticipated just for that fact. It was a chance for fans to show their appreciation to the Hoosiers, who would be playing their last regular season game at Assembly Hall and a chance to see them win another basketball game.

Holmes, Scalia and Wisne didn’t shy away from the challenge as Indiana beat Maryland 71-54 Sunday afternoon. Scalia led all scorers with 19 points and led the Hoosiers with nine rebounds. Holmes shot 5-for-5 from the field and 1-for-1 from the free throw line, ending the day with 11 points and six rebounds. Wisne only played for one minute but put up Indiana’s most forceful block of the day, much to the delight of her teammates.

“She’s such a beautiful person, inside and out,” Moren said about Wisne. “To put her on the floor and have her do something positive like that was great.”

Indiana’s entire bench leapt to its feet when Wisne got the block, including Holmes — one of her closest friends on the team. While often a primary source of excitement and energy for the Hoosiers and their fans, Holmes brought some anxiety and worry Sunday. With just under four minutes to go in the third quarter, Holmes exited the game and limped to the locker room after appearing to land awkwardly on her left leg — the same leg with which she has dealt with multiple knee injuries.

Teri Moren said postgame Holmes will be evaluated by training staff daily, confirming they would look specifically at her knee. Lilly Meister is in a similar situation, as she went down with a left ankle injury in the fourth quarter. She will also be evaluated daily.

“We’re going to be hopeful and optimistic that it’ll turn out the way that we want it to,” Moren said. “We have great medical staff that will do everything they can for both she and Lilly.”

Holmes’ return to Indiana’s bench with just a few minutes left in the game allowed Indiana fans to let out the breath they had been holding and comfortably watch the Hoosiers secure the victory and put them at 15-0 at home on the regular season.

One of the biggest reasons behind Indiana’s success this season, especially at Assembly Hall, has been Scalia. Sunday was no different. She was one of Indiana’s most efficient and electric players, hitting crucial 3-pointers to stop Maryland scoring runs and extend Indiana’s runs. She helped set the tone early by scoring eight points in the first quarter, doing it all with a little smile.

“When I went into the transfer portal from Minnesota, a big thing for me was winning and that’s what Indiana does,” Scalia said. “It’s definitely fun being a part of a team that’s committed to winning and working hard to do that.”

It’s difficult to find players who embody having fun and working hard more than Indiana’s seniors. Holmes, Scalia and Wisne put their all into every game they play, and it’s clear from the way their teammates react when they make near-impossible layups, sink 3-pointers or get up for blocks how special they are to the program.

“Being able to watch an All-American, how she is every day, how she’s working out with Coach Rhet (Wierzba) and what she’s doing and how she got to this point that she’s such a good player, it means a lot to me,” Yarden Garzon said about Holmes.

The two have been workout partners since Garzon arrived in Bloomington last year and she credits a lot of her growth to Holmes’ presence in her life, on and off the court.

“I really appreciate her,” Garzon said. “I’m sure I will miss her a lot next year.”

Sunday was bittersweet and emotional, as any Senior Day is. But Indiana’s sights aren’t on anything but its next game, and won’t be for as long as possible. The Hoosiers will be the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tournament and are all but guaranteed to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. So, while Sunday was special, it wasn’t the end. Indiana has lofty goals and no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

Filed to: