A win over a ranked Tennessee team was the win Indiana needed.
Sophomore Yarden Garzon scored 16 points in the first half, including 12 from deep, to catapult the Hoosiers to an 11-point lead heading into halftime of Thursday’s game between two ranked teams. She finished the game with a career-high 23 points, shooting 5 of 6 from 3-point range, along with five rebounds and five assists as No. 21 Indiana defeated No. 19 Tennessee 71-57 in the match. Tip from Elevance Health Women’s Fort Myers in Fort Myers, Florida.
And it happened on his 20th birthday.
“The win was the best birthday present I could have given myself,” Garzon said after the Hoosiers improved to 4-1. “It was a team effort. I’m proud of my team for coming today to win this game and we left everything on the field.
In the second quarter, something clicked and everyone’s shots were falling. The No. 19 Volunteers couldn’t do much to stop Indiana on the perimeter. Indiana finished 10 of 22 from 3-point range and shot a season-high 46 percent from beyond the arc.
Garzon, a native of Israel, didn’t have a stellar performance early in the Hoosiers’ season — not quite comparable to his freshman campaign. Garzon shot nearly 46 percent from deep last season, averaging 11.1 points per game and five rebounds per game. She was one of the most efficient shooters in the country.
The Hoosiers are 20-2 when Garzon scores in double figures. When she’s around, Hoosiers tend to succeed.
“I know if I pass the ball to Yarden beyond the arc he has a good chance of going in and that just comes from confidence,” Mackenzie Holmes said. “I’ve seen her work ethic and I’ve seen her develop as a player and I know how capable she is.”
“When she was filming the music video she was filming on, it was hard not to smile,” Holmes added.
It was the Hoosiers’ second real test of the season, the first ending in a 32-point loss to then-15th-ranked Stanford on the road. Coach Teri Moren was disappointed with their lack of urgency on the defensive side of the ball. Hoosiers knew they had to make progress, but Holmes emphasized that change doesn’t happen overnight.
In this case, Hoosiers saw tangible progress just 11 days later. They held the Lady Volunteers to 36 percent shooting from the field and 57 points, 27 points lower than their previous lowest-scoring game this season and 35 points lower than their season average. The Volunteers were without last season’s leading scorer, Rickea Jackson, who averaged 19 points per game last season, but nonetheless, Indiana was clearly the better team on Thursday night.
“After that loss at Stanford, we weren’t just angry, frustrated and disappointed,” Moren said. “We were a little embarrassed. We knew it wasn’t our team. That’s not what we’re capable of…They wanted to show off and prove to themselves more than anything that they were better than what we showed during our performance at Stanford.
Indiana will have a chance to prove itself again Saturday against a Princeton team that lost by three to No. 2 UCLA and beat No. 22 Oklahoma in Fort Myers on Thursday after- noon.