From Mackenzie Holmes to Teri Moren, players on the court and even the crowd. There was a nervous and anxious energy despite the IU women’s basketball program holding a 23-point lead midway through the fourth quarter against Purdue. Why? Well, history was about to be made.
With 5:15 left in the game, Indiana All-American forward Mackenzie Holmes did what she has been known to do, score the ball. And, it was a typical post move that she has practiced thousands of times. But, this one was just a bit different — it was for history.
As Holmes made her may through the paint to the right block, she turned over her left shoulder and banked in her final two points of the afternoon. And, she became the all-time leading scorer in IU women’s basketball history.
“We were trying to run some high ball action and open motion and show some patience to allow her to work block to block. We wanted to get her right in front of the halo where they can’t double her,” IU women’s basketball head coach Teri Moren said of the play call that got Holmes her historic points. “We ran a little ghost action for her and knew Yarden (Gardon) could deliver the goods and she did. And it was great to see the thing go in. The applause, the cheering — was pretty special and I know her teammates were extremely happy for her … we were going to get it for her one way or another (on Sunday).”
Holmes needed 17 points to set the record and she did exactly that. After having just six points at the half, an 11-point second half turned in the exact number that she needed, finishing with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting in just 29 minutes.
“I’m just extremely thankful,” Holmes said postgame. “I’ve played with some really, really amazing people. I’ve played for the best coaches in the country and it’s just a really special thing for me to wear Indiana across my chest every single day. And playing in Assembly Hall has just been one of the greatest blessings in my life.”
“I’m so happy for Mack,” Moren added. “I think Mack is relieved that this is over, and now it’s one less thing she has to worry about — not that Mack was worried about it. Mack’s never worried about her own accolades. It’s always been about the team for Mackenzie.”
For someone who is always worried about the team’s goals and aspirations, Sunday was about Holmes. But despite her historic moment, she made sure to make it known that she’s not satisfied and the reason she returned to school was to etch her name in history as a team, not individual.
So, there’s still much more to play for.
“I’ve just kind of tried to let things come to me the best I can. Obviously people talk about it, you see it being talked about throughout the season and going into the season I knew it was within reach for me, but it wasn’t something that — I didn’t come back for a fifth year to break the all-time leading scoring record,” Holmes said. “I came back to win a Big Ten championship, win a national championship. So that’s kind of what I’ve had to just continue to remind myself throughout this process.”
But, even though it wasn’t the goal or the expectation, it was a weight that has now been lifted.
And, it can also help her play even more free moving forward — which is a dangerous thing for this Indiana team.
“We haven’t talked about it once, her and I. We haven’t discussed the record,” Holmes said of her and Moren. “She knows that I know and I know that she knows, so we didn’t talk about before the game. She knows that’s not my main focus and never was my main focus so we try to focus on the task at hand.”
“I think she is proud. You know, we were walking off (the court) and said, ‘This has been a huge weight that’s now off my shoulders’. So it’s not something that she hadn’t been thinking about, but I think she’s, as I am, happy that it’s behind us,” Moren added. “Now we can just focus, and not that she lost her focus. I’m not suggesting that, but we can just move forward.”
After Indiana subbed out Holmes and she took it all in, the emotions were evident.
Not only with Holmes, but the rest of her teammates. It’s part of the culture that Teri Moren has built and part of the culture that Holmes has carried with her during her time in Bloomington.
But, with just six points at halftime, was there any doubt in Holmes’ or her teammates minds that she would hit the mark? Of course not. It’s Mackenzie Holmes and it’s against Purdue — a team she has never lost to.
“Not nervous at all,” IU guard Chloe Moore-McNeil said. “Mackenzie is an exceptional player … her talent, she’s an all-American. She amazes me every time we step on the floor … in those moments, you’re just in awe of the crowd, the atmosphere. You soak it in as well.”
“I think — they were trying to look for me in the post in the fourth quarter. I knew I was close,” Holmes added. “I could feel the energy when I was one bucket away, I knew. but it was just a matter of letting things come to me and I know my teammates will always find me so I wasn’t worried.”
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