In a highly anticipated matchup between two top-10 teams Thursday night, No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball fell 66-58 to No. 2 North Carolina State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Despite a strong defensive performance, Indiana’s offense was ultimately unable to keep up with NC State’s.
“We had every chance tonight, and unfortunately, the ball just wouldn’t go in the basket like we needed it to,” head coach Teri Moren said. “Really still proud of our group and how they fought.”
While Indiana trailed for all but a bit under 13 minutes, the game stayed close until the fourth quarter; the largest lead of the game was 5 points until 1:34 remained in the fourth quarter when NC State took a 55-48 lead.
Women's basketball: [COLUMN: Indiana women’s basketball’s late falter costly in 66-58 loss to NC State]
Senior forward Kayla Jones hit a 3-pointer to give NC State a 51-47 lead with three minutes left, and Indiana was left to play catch-up for the rest of the game as NC State capitalized on that momentum.
“It certainly deflated us a little bit,” Moren said of Jones’ shot. “The three that Jones stuck was something that probably ignited them.”
Jones was one of four on the Wolfpack to score in double digits with 17. She was outscored only by sophomore guard Diamond Johnson with 19. Moren said Johnson is difficult to guard, with her ball-handling skills and ability to move around the court. However, Moren praised her team for its overall defensive effort.
Graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, while shooting 0-10, contributed defensively, putting pressure on Johnson and others up and down the court. Junior forward Mackenzie Holmes proved instrumental in all areas, and Moren commended her defensive adjustments against junior center Elissa Cunane.
“Mack really did a better job as the game went on just trying to limit not just her touches but just trying to force her out of the box,” she said. “I think when we look back we’ll be pleased — for the most part — defensively.”
Holmes led the Hoosiers with 24 points and was joined in scoring double-digits by graduate student guard Ali Patberg and senior guard Grace Berger who each had 10. Entering the game, all five Hoosier starters averaged at least 10 points per game.
“We just weren’t hitting shots,” Holmes said. “We got a lot of good looks, actually. We got a lot of shots that we know we can make, and they didn’t fall.”
Women's basketball: [No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball struggles offensively, loses to No. 2 NC State]
Indiana finished shooting 34% to NC State’s 42%. NC State made one more shot than Indiana, but Indiana had 10 more shot attempts. Of Indiana’s 65 shots, 24 came from behind the 3-point line, something Holmes said was a result of NC State’s defending.
“It was just the flow of the game,” she said. “We were shooting what was open and that happened to be the three.”
Indiana will look to bounce back in its first Big Ten matchup Monday. The team will face Penn State, which is 4-4 on the season, at 6 p.m. in Bloomington.