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Sweet 16 Recap: Indiana ekes past NC State with defense at the buzzer and throughout

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The defensive-minded Indiana Hoosiers forced 17 turnovers and forced the NC State Wolfpack’s Elissa Cunane into a difficult 3-point shot as time was winding down to hold on and advance to the Elite Eight. Ali Patberg, Grace Berger and Aleksa Gulbe led the way.

Indiana v NC State
Grace Berger had 12 points, 12 rebounds and five assists on Saturday.
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The No. 4 seed Indiana Hoosiers held on to upset the No. 1 seed NC State Wolfpack 73-70 by successfully defending an Elissa Cunane fadeaway three that went off the backboard and fell harmlessly to the floor as time was winding down, three minutes and 24 seconds after Indiana’s star center Mackenzie Holmes fouled out.

Freshman Kiandra Browne came in for Holmes and immediately scored to put Indiana up 70-60, but NC State went on an 8-0 run from there with a three from Raina Perez and five points from Jada Boyd so it was a scary finish for the Hoosiers.

Indiana led by 10 entering the fourth after winning the third 24-15. It was up 14 three times in the frame. The second time was on a Nicole Cardaño-Hillary 3-point play with 2:29 to go and the third time was on a Grace Berger mid-range make with 1:51 to go. Berger’s mid-range shooting was a big part of Indiana’s third.

Indiana team leader Ali Patberg (17 points, five assists) opened the second half with two missed free throws, but Holmes blocked Cunane on the other end and Patberg made a mid-range shot in transition afterwards. A Patberg dish to Holmes for a layup on the next Indiana possession made it 38-33 Hoosiers.

With the score at 40-35, Holmes blocked Cunane again, which led to Patberg drawing Boyd’s third foul in transition and converting on a 3-point play to make it 43-35 Indiana.

That stretch changed the game.

The Wolfpack turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and trailed 34-33 at the break.

NC State led 22-14 after one, but Indiana ted it up at 24-24 on a Berger jumper with 4:47 to go in the second. The Wolfpack went back up by five three times before a 6-0 Hoosiers run to end the first half that included a Cardaño-Hillary triple.

NC State was 4-of-4 from distance in the first quarter. It started on a 7-0 run, which was followed by a 9-0 Indiana run, which was followed by a 11-0 NC State run to make the score 18-9 Wolfpack.

Berger and Aleksa Gulbe both had double-doubles for Indiana.

NC State’s third-leading scorer, Kayla Jones, was out with a patella tendon injury.