Fourth-seeded Indiana rolls past Fairfield 89-56 in first round of NCAAs

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana senior Sara Scalia hopes that her hot start can be a mental boost.

Scalia scored 27 points, hitting five of Indiana's 10 3-pointers, to lead the fourth-seeded Hoosiers to an 89-56 victory over No. 13 Fairfield on Saturday in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament.

“It’s always good for a shooter to have good shooting game and kind of go off that,” Scalia said. “It just brings you more and more confidence. It was definitely a good start to the tournament.”

Indiana coach Teri Moren said Scalia has shown more emotion this year and her teammates feed off of that.

“Every time she shoots it, we believe it’s going to go in,” the coach said.

Yarden Garzon, Chloe Moore-McNeil and Mackenzie Holmes each scored 13 points for the Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers (25-5) will face the winner of No. 5 seed Oklahoma and No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast on Monday night.

Fairfield (31-2) saw its 29-game winning streak come to an end. Janelle Brown led the Stags, who earned the first Top 25 ranking in school history earlier this month, with 19 points. Meghan Andersen was the only other Fairfield player in double figures with 10 points.

IU led 38-34 at halftime but dominated in the second half. The Hoosiers used a 13-0 spurt in the third quarter to take a 59-43 lead with 4:23 left in third quarter. Scalia scored 10 of those 13 points with two 3-pointers.

Indiana led 64-49 after three quarters and kept expanding its lead in the fourth quarter.

“I think the biggest thing was we had a little bit of slow start and we had to lock in defensively and get out to the shooters and don't let them knock down 3s,” Scalia said.

Moren said the team began switching defensively in the second half.

The Hoosiers shot 51% from the field while hold the Stags to 32% IU held a 44-29 rebounding advantage. IU held a 40-18 edge of points in the paint and 17-2 edge in points off turnovers.

IU had a big advantage in free throws, too, making 17-of-22 free throws while Fairfield only took four from the line.

“They have a great defensive team and always have been but this was incredibly tough environment to play in,” Fairfield coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis said.

Brown said it was hard to communicate because of the crowd noise.

Trailing 31-26 with 4:46 left in the second quarter, the Hoosiers outscored the Stags 12-3 the rest of the quarter to take a 38-34 halftime lead.

Garzon led IU with 12 points in the opening half, including a 3-pointer that gave the Hoosiers the lead for good at 32-31.

Holmes had converted a 3-point play to give IU a 20-17 left with 52 seconds left in the opening quarter. Fairfield went on take that five-point lead before the bubble burst.

“We are going to remember this team forever, not because we’re 31-2 but because of how they pushed each other and challenged each other,” Thibault-DuDonis said. “They've brought joy to each other's lives, and they've done that not only within the locker room, but within our campus and community.”

AP March Madness bracket: and coverage: