EVANSTON, Ill. — Mackenzie Holmes scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead No. 6 Indiana to a 72-50 win over Northwestern on Sunday.
Holmes had 18 points on 9-for-12 shooting in the first half as fellow senior Grace Berger returned to the lineup after missing eight games with a right knee injury.
Berger did not look limited as she swapped out a thigh-to-ankle knee brace for a standard knee brace and finished with 16 points and five assists.
“(Berger’s return) gives everybody a shot in the arm, including our staff,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “But what I’ll say is Grace is a fantastic player who is going to be a pro. The thing that sets her apart is she makes everybody around her better.”
Holmes took over with 14 points in the second quarter, including eight straight points, as the Hoosiers (14-1, 4-1 Big Ten) outscored the Wildcats (6-9, 0-5) 20-12 to take a 40-24 lead into halftime. She finished 10 of 14 from the field and added two blocks in her sixth double-double of the season.
Berger racked up three assists in the opening minutes before scoring a layup and hitting a transition jumper for her first buckets since exiting a Nov. 25 win over Auburn and being ruled out indefinitely.
“In practice this past week and then in the game, I’ve pretty much felt like my old self,” Berger said.
The Wildcats got a boost off the bench as Jasmine McWilliams added eight points on 3-for-3 shooting in the third. McWilliams and Sydney Wood led Northwestern with 10 points each as the team shot 35.8% in their seventh loss in nine games.
The Hoosiers outrebounded the Wildcats 46 to 33 and tallied up 20 points on 19 Northwestern turnovers.
“The fight was there, (but) we’ve got to get better offensively,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said. “We’ve been known for our defense for (my tenure). Offensively, we’ve got to find some easy baskets. We missed layups and we missed a lot around the rim.”
Indiana: Berger’s return is a huge boost for the talented Hoosiers as they look to challenge for the Big Ten crown down the stretch. Teri Moren’s battle-tested group faces a tough schedule this month with ranked games against Maryland, Michigan and Ohio State coming up.
Northwestern: The Wildcats have dropped four straight in a brutal opening stretch to Big Ten play. McKeown is 0-5 to start Big Ten play for the first time since taking over the program in 2008. It doesn’t get easier with trips to Iowa and Ohio State looming.
Indiana: Hosts No. 13 Maryland in a matchup between Big Ten contenders.
Northwestern: Visits Iowa Wednesday.
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