CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Mackenzie Holmes scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Grace Berger added 18 points to lead No. 6 Indiana to an 83-72 win over No. 21 Illinois on Wednesday.
Holmes hit six of seven shots and scored 14 points in the third quarter as the Hoosiers (17-1, 7-1 Big Ten) shot 68.4% for the period after trailing the Illini (15-4, 5-3) for most of the first half.
“Whether I’m getting hot or whether I miss a few shots (my team) is always looking for me,” Holmes said.
Kendall Bostic scored 10 points during a 13-4 Illinois run that whittled the Indiana lead to seven points before Holmes hit a layup and made a free throw to give the Hoosiers some space with 4:05 left.
Holmes finished 12 of 20 from the floor and recorded her eighth double-double of the season.
“I love watching (Holmes) play,” Bostic said. “I don’t really like playing against her.”
Yarden Garzon added 13 points and Chloe Moore-McNeil pitched in with 12 points and six assists for the Hoosiers.
Genesis Bryant led Illinois with 18 points and Bostic followed with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Illinois took a 19-10 lead late in the first quarter on Brynn Shoup-Hill’s layup before Garzon and Sydney Parrish hit a pair of 3s during an 8-0 run out of a timeout to pull the Hoosiers within three.
“We responded in the right kind of way,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We didn’t blink, we didn’t panic, we didn’t take bad shots in that stretch.”
Holmes tied the game at 26 with a layup midway through the second quarter as the Illini endured a 5:20 stretch without a bucket. Berger scored six points during a 16-5 to help the Hoosiers take a 37-31 break into halftime.
“If there’s probably any area that (Holmes) has grown the most, it’s been mentally, with understanding she has a responsibility to this team to show up every night,” Moren said.
Moren notched her 189th career win at Indiana to pass Jim Izard for the most in program history.
“She hates to lose way more than she loves to win and I think that’s evident with her passion, on and off the court, for the game (and) for us,” Holmes said. “It’s a really special thing that I’m able to play for her while she gets this milestone.”
Illinois coach Shauna Green saluted the State Farm Center crowd of 5,583 for creating a rowdy atmosphere and reflected on where the Illini are at two months into her first season.
“(The players) deserve to play in front of this crowd,” Green said. “They deserve to play in that environment.”
Indiana: The Hoosiers opened a stretch of seven of 11 games against ranked foes in convincing fashion after weathering an early storm on the road. The margin for error slims further with matchups against Michigan and first-place Ohio State looming.
Illinois: Green has quickly elevated the Illini in her first season after bringing Makira Cook and her Dayton assistants to Champaign. Illinois is in position to make its first postseason appearance since an NIT berth in 2013 and could make its first NCAA Tournament since 2003.
Indiana: Visits No. 14 Michigan on Monday.
Illinois: At Northwestern on Sunday.