Indiana guard Sara Scalia (14) reacts after scoring a 3-point...

Indiana guard Sara Scalia (14) reacts after scoring a 3-point field goal during the second half of a first-round college basketball game against Fairfield in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Bloomington, Ind. Credit: AP/Doug McSchooler

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana again has the advantage of playing on its home court in its quest to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Hoosiers want this time to be different.

No. 4 seed Indiana (25-5) faces No. 5 seed Oklahoma (23-9) on Monday night in the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament.

A year ago, the top-seeded Hoosiers fell short in this round, losing 70-68 to No. 9 seed Miami.

“We try not to think much about last year, but I think it’s always in the back of our mind,” Hoosiers senior guard Sydney Parrish said. “This is a new team, a new season. We have a lot of returners, but still can’t compare us to the team we were last year. Still have the chip on our shoulder and never want to feel like we did after our loss last year.”

Hoosiers coach Teri Moren said she always prefers to look forward.

“I think all of our times we’ve come up short on our schedule has taught us a lesson that we can take into this tournament,” Moren said. “But also having this tournament experience we understand how important the start is.”

Moren said the Hoosiers know they are in a great position in front of the home crowd.

“We understand there is a task at hand and we have business to take care of,” she said.

Oklahoma senior Skylar Vann is excited for the challenge.

“I think playing in front of that kind of crowd is going to be fun and special,” said Vann, who averages a team-high 15 points per game. “I think we’re really going to have to just focus on our bubble and what we got going on in the locker room and on the court and be really connected. It’s going to be loud with a lot of distractions.”

Teammate Lexy Keys is ready for the moment as well.

“This is what you play all year for, so I think embracing it and really enjoying the moment is going to be important for us because it’s going to be a really fun atmosphere,” Keys said.

Oklahoma plays its share of tough Big 12 road games, such as Texas and Iowa State.

“You have to handle the environment,” Sooners coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “You’re playing on someone else’s home floor in a big game. You’re playing against a really experienced team. You’re playing a team that’s really hungry. You’ve got to not only match that but you’ve got to get every loose ball, every hustle play, and play really free at the same time. We know we’re going to have to bring it against Indiana. You’ve got to give everything you got.”

Keys said the Hoosiers have a lot of strong shooters and a strong post presence, led by senior Mackenzie Holmes, who leads the Hoosiers with 19.7 points per game.

Moren said she anticipated Oklahoma will seek a faster pace than it played in its 73-70 victory over offensive-minded Florida Gulf Coast in the first round on Saturday.

“What we can’t do is have it become a track meet for us,” said Moren, whose team topped Fairfield 89-56 in the first round. “We don’t want to trade misses with them. We want to understand what a good shot looks like for us."


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