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No. 1-seeded Indiana started slow but dominated the final two-thirds of its 77-47 win over No. 16 Tennessee Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Indiana advances to NCAA second round, blowing past Tennessee Tech

Even without their All-American, the Hoosiers cruised thanks to guard play and post defense

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A bright and early start kicked March Madness off for the No. 1 seed Indiana. The Hoosiers entered Saturday morning with their highest-ever seeding in an NCAA tournament. With the No. 1 seeding, the Hoosiers were set to meet No.16 seed Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles competed for the first 10 minutes but Indiana quickly found its way and easily closed out the game with a 77-47 win. 

About an hour before tip, Indiana announced that senior forward Mackenzie Holmes would play limited minutes against the Golden Eagles. Holmes, the first-team All-American for Indiana, would end up not playing in the game but afterward, head coach Teri Moren clarified her status moving forward. 

“Limited throughout the week,” Moren said. “Available if needed, and then very optimistic. Feel really good about her Monday.”

Freshman forward Lilly Meister would end up starting in place for Holmes for the first time in her career. The Minnesota native would finish the game with seven points, four rebounds and one assist. 

Sydney Parrish warms up before IU’s victory over Tennessee Tech in the NCAA Tournament on March 18. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

The first quarter started contested between the two teams. Both teams began to exchange baskets during the opening minutes but Tennessee Tech came out with a bit more energy than the Hoosiers. Led by senior guard Maaliya Owens, the Golden Eagles made their first four 3s to start the game. Three-point shooting was the key factor that pushed Tech past Monmouth on Thursday in its First Four game, finishing 12-for-26 from behind the arc. In the beginning, it looked like a similar case was unfolding against the Hoosiers. 

Tennessee Tech came out using its strengths, finishing the quarter 4-for-7 from 3 and 7-for-19 from the field. Indiana struggled from behind the 3-point arc to start the game but made the score close with several trips to the free-throw line. The end of the first quarter snuck up quickly and they headed into the break tied at 18.

The Golden Eagles ran into the second quarter with all the momentum but were quickly stopped by the heavily powered Indiana guards. A mix of Grace Berger, Sydney Parrish, Lexus Bargesser and Yarden Garzon boosted Indiana’s offense to a 17-0 run in the middle of the quarter that saw the Golden Eagles go scoreless for four minutes and 32 seconds. 

From there it was easy going for the Hoosiers as they went into halftime with a double-digit lead of 39-27. Indiana couldn't find much success from the 3-point line but shot 54 percent from the field and 9-for-12 from the free-throw line to close out the half.

Alyssa Geary (left) and Grace Berger walk up the court during IU’s victory over Tennessee Tech in the NCAA Tournament on March 18. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

The second half was even more dominant for the Hoosiers as Berger and Parrish began to steamroll past their opponent. Both guards finished the game as the team’s leading scorers with Berger leading the pack at 19 points and Parrish with 17. Offensively, Indiana found its zone and finished the half shooting 63 percent from the field and even set a program record for blocks in an NCAA Tournament game with 11. 

Indiana would go on to win its fourth consecutive tournament-opening game, outlasting the Golden Eagles by 30 points. 

After the game, Moren talked about continuing their “one game at a time” mentality moving forward in the tournament. 

“This is a group that's certainly up for the task of being able to handle the next opponent,” Moren said. “Just realizing that we're going to continue to get everybody's best. We’ve just got to be able to exceed the energy of these teams and make sure that we're playing the right way and doing things that we do both offensively and defensively to put ourselves in a position to be successful.” 

Indiana will now face No. 9 seed Miami (FL) in the second round of the tournament. Both teams will play on Monday with a time that is yet to be decided.

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