No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball and No. 2 North Carolina State University had a close, back-and-forth game Thursday night in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall before Indiana ultimately fell 66-58.
For most of the game, the two sides were neck-and-neck in an NCAA Tournament rematch of last season’s Sweet 16, which Indiana won 73-70.
With just over three minutes to play in the game, Indiana trailed by just 1 point at 48-47 thanks to a 3-pointer from senior forward Aleksa Gulbe. The crowd of 5,242 at Assembly Hall was the loudest it had been all night, as Indiana looked to finish the game strong and secure an upset win at home.
Women's basketball: [No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball falls to No. 2 NC State 66-58]
On the next possession for the Wolfpack, graduate student forward Kayla Jones buried a 3-pointer, a contested jumper as the shot clock expired, which took a friendly roll from the rim. Jones’ shot started a 9-1 run for her team, expanding the lead from 1 point to 8 in just 1:46 near the end of the fourth quarter.
Indiana head coach Teri Moren credits the triple from Jones for helping to halt her team’s momentum late in the contest. Going forward, Moren said her team needs to improve its responsiveness to negative plays, particularly after solid possessions that do not end in her team’s favor.
“That was not a backbreaker because we still had time, but it certainly deflated us a little bit,” Moren said. “That's the teaching moment, we have to be able to pick ourselves up when stuff like that happens because it was such a great defensive stance for us. And yet she was able to shoot it quickly and it goes down for her.”
Indiana’s offense struggled nearly all night but especially in the first half. The team shot just 25% from the floor in the first half, and 34% on the game.
“We just weren't hitting shots. I think we got a lot of good looks actually,” junior forward Mackenzie Holmes said. “They just didn’t fall. It wasn't our night from that standpoint, but I think we got a lot of good looks.”
Women's basketball: [COLUMN: Indiana women’s basketball’s late falter costly in 66-58 loss to NC State]
Holmes was her team’s go-to scorer on offense all night, leading the Hoosiers in scoring with 24 points while shooting 9 for 14 in the game. A strong offensive performance from the junior was not enough to secure the win, as the Wolfpack offense came alive when it mattered most.
“They stepped up and hit shots,” Holmes said. “It’s hard for me to say that right now. I think if I went back and watched, we could pick it out and we’d find them, but they just stepped up.”
Indiana opens Big Ten play at 6 p.m. Monday in Assembly Hall against Penn State, who lost to Boston College 86-69 Thursday night.
“There's going to be things that we're going to pick apart,” Moren said. “Come Monday when we play Penn State, we’ve got to be better.”