BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The No. 2-ranked Wolfpack had a bone to pick with the No. 6-ranked Hoosiers after they shut them down in the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen game last season.
N.C. State is redeemed for now beating the Hoosiers 66-58 in a Big Ten/ACC Challenge thriller that looked promising for Indiana going into the half.
"It's disappointing that we performed that way in front of that crowd, but I just hope they keep coming back and keep supporting us," junior forward Mackenzie Holmes said.
Holmes led her pack with 24 points and handled herself well while guarding Elissa Cunane, the 6'5" preseason ACC Player of the Year.
"I thought we did a great job on Cunane," Moren said. "I was a little bit nervous there in the beginning with Mac, but I thought as the game went on, Mac and then Leks (Gulbe) were throwing doubles at her. We were trying to crowd her as much as we could."
Holmes limited Cunane to only 11 points on the night. It was Rutgers graduate transfer Diamond Johnson who led the Wolfpack with 19 points. Her wiggle room she had in the game, as described by Moren, was hard to respond to.
The Hoosiers improved on their defense forcing 16 turnovers, but it would be their shooting that cost them the game.
"Unfortunately, we just didn't hit enough shots," Moren said. "Right now, getting anything, outside of Mac, tonight to really go down for us was hard. It was difficult. We felt as a staff we had a bunch of good shots, and they just didn't go down. There's no excuse for that."
Indiana shot 22-for-65 field goals resulting in 34% shooting, but the Wolfpack weren't impressive from the field either. They went 23-for-55, a 42%.
"I do think it's frustrating when you don't see your shot go down as easy as you want it to," Moren said. "They were probably feeling the same way. Both teams were really struggling with trying to score back-to-back possessions and get any kind of rhythm."
The Wolfpack started off with plenty of bite scoring the first five points of the game. The Hoosiers took a bit to gain their footing after missing two three pointers.
Senior Grace Berger grabbed the first Hoosier bucket of the game with eight minutes to go in the first quarter.
N.C. State's Elissa Cunane proved to be a problem in the paint showing off her height and swishing her first three shots of the game.
The Hoosiers entered a scoring drought for just above three minutes, but sophomore Chloe Moore-McNeil came in off the bench to score a three-pointer and bring the Hoosiers within two of the Wolfpack.
The second quarter contained more aggressive defense than the previous. N.C. State pressured Indiana with seconds left on the shot clock while Indiana responded with the same defensive pressures forcing the Wolfpack to shoot and miss.
"I thought we put pressure on them defensively and got the shots we wanted," Moren said. "We were stingy particularly in the first half."
Patberg's jumper, and Indiana's ability to snatch up any loose ball created more momentum for Indiana. Holmes hit a three-pointer and gave her team its first lead of the game (14-13).
Indiana continued to exemplify excellent defense keeping N.C. State in a scoring drought for over three minutes.
Off the bench, Moore-McNeil scored a three pointer to put Indiana back into the lead. A few jumpers by Patberg put Indiana in a good position before half with a 23-21 lead over N.C. State.
The second half wasn't as successful as the first. Holmes kept plowing through the paint with hook shot jumpers keeping the Hoosiers within one or two points, but slowly, the point margin started to expand giving N.C. State a nice cushion.
Hoosier fans weren't giving up on their team as they gave Holmes a standing ovation for her three-pointer she hit to close N.C. State's gap to 38-37. It was so loud that the whistle couldn't be heard over the chants.
The Wolfpack gained even more momentum as the half went on. Moren said her team might have been gassed with fatigue, although that's never an excuse for the Hoosiers she emphasized.
"We will be better," Moren said. "That's a good basketball team. They have a chance to go to the Final Four. They're picked to win the ACC, and we had every chance tonight, but unfortunately the ball just wouldn't go in the basket."
Up next, Indiana prepares for Big Ten play when the Penn State Nittany Lions come to Bloomington on Mon., Dec. 6.
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