That was a tough one, and damn sure unpleasant for long stretches, but nevertheless NC State has its revenge over an Indiana squad that eliminated the Wolfpack in the Sweet Sixteen last season.
This was a tale of two players: Diamond Johnson and Kayla Jones.
Elissa Cunane got off to a quick start as did State in general, but Cunane quickly found herself in foul trouble, and in her absence the offensive execution disappeared. For the majority of the first half, NC State looked lost at the offensive end, and what good looks the Pack did get wouldn’t fall.
Often when this Wolfpack team is out of sorts, a lot of bad turnovers are the result—they were a significant reason why NC State went into the half down two points. It also could have been a lot worse if not for Diamond Johnson, who stepped up to make several big shots in the second quarter while State was reeling.
Johnson scored eight of the team’s 10 points in that quarter, making her an essential floatation device while Indiana found some rhythm and seized the momentum.
Pace and Efficiency
In the second half, both teams course corrected to some degree at the offensive end, and it was back and forth for a good while. NC State’s superior depth did eventually shine through, but this game turned on Kayla Jones, who scored 17 in the second half after going scoreless in the first.
Jones didn’t get the chance to play against Indiana in the NCAA tournament because she was injured and in the first half tonight she was pressing. Sometimes getting right is as simple as taking a deep breath at halftime; she was everywhere in the second half, making hustle plays, grabbing key offensive boards, knocking down threes.
State held just a 48-47 advantage after Indiana canned a three with a little under four minutes left. Kayla Jones responded to that with a three of her own, and then after a stop, she hit a layup to push the Pack’s lead to six with 2:19 left. A minute later, NC State was up by nine and salting away a big, big road win.