"The score didn't indicate how hard we played," ISU head coach Bill Fennelly said. "I was really proud of their effort. We just weren't good enough to win."
Behind a solid defensive effort,
"I gained confidence after the first three," Ezell said. "I was able to find the basket early and get in a rhythm."
ISU senior Brittany Wilkins was outstanding in the first half. The 6-3 post player drained a 3-pointer to give her seven points along with five rebounds. The Cyclones closed out the half with just five turnovers, three of which came in the first four minutes of the game.
The Wolfpack, which was 0-of-10
from behind the arc in the first half, found the basket in the second half.
"At half time, our game plan was solid," Fennelly said. "When they started hitting, we made adjustments, changed up the zone. What it came down to was we gave up too many of (the 3-pointers) as second shots."
Iowa State kept it close with five second-half 3-pointers, but NCSU extended its lead to double digits (61-51) with 6:51 left and went on to hit three consecutive treys to put the game out of reach. Despite ISU's defensive adjustments, Brown and Key sank 3-pointers seemingly on demand, finishing with eight and six 3-pointers made, respectively.
"At first, our main focus was to help inside," Ezell said. "We tried to talk more and get out on a couple more of their players that started to hit them."
"We had an 8-10 minute span where we shot ourselves in the foot," Wilkins said. "We were tired and they were making their shots. That shows our inexperience."
Lyndsey Medders and Megan Ronhovde, ISU's two returning starters from last year, were a combined 3-of-16 at the half and finished 5-of-25 from the field for the game. Ezell drained 5-of-12 treys en route to a team-best 17 points, while Wilkins added 13.