by Mike Potter
REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State needs just one win to assure itself at least a .500 season and a near-certain spot in post-season play.
And tonight the Wolfpack is looking for revenge.
State lost 83-66 at Boston College on Jan. 10, and has dropped three straight in the series. BC is coached by UNC alumna Sylvia Crawley, while coming off the bench is wing guard Ayla Brown whose father Scott is the junior member of the U.S. Senate. Sen. Brown (R-Mass.) is observed on site.
BC still has an outside chance to get a bye in the first round of the ACC Tournament, while the Wolfpack still has a chance to wear white in the first round.
It's "Pack the House" night with $1 tickets, and the Fox Sports cameras are in the house.
And the Wolfpack gets off to a very, very good start, playing one of its better games of the season in a 73-62 romp.
Boston College never gets the lead.
State scores the first six points on 3-pointers from Marissa Kastanek and Nikitta Gartrell (pictured), bolting to a 14-2 lead on a pair of Gartrell free throws with 13:32 left in the half.
It's 31-19 at halftime despite the Wolfpack's 30.3 percent shooting - including 5-for-24 from two-point range - as State has five turnovers to BC's 16 before the break.
BC gets to within seven four times, the last time on a Brown layup to make it 65-58 with 1:12 to go, but never gets a chance to get closer.
Gartrell finishes with 20 points including 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Kastanek adds 17 including 5-for-6 outside the arc, while Amber White chips in 11 and Sharnise Beal 10.
Stefanie Murphy and Brittany Johnson lead the Eagles with 15 points each, followed by Carolyn Swords with 13 including 6-for-6 from the floor.
State shoots 41.0 percent from the floor to the visitors' 54.3, but cans 8-for-14 from outside the arc and hits all 15 free throws. That 15-for-15 is the first 100 percent night at the line for the Wolfpack 1985, i.e., the best in the lifetimes of any of the current players.
BC wins the rebound battle 29-27, but gets only seven offensive rebounds including one from the entire starting lineup.
They said it ...
N.C. State coach Kellie Harper: "I'm so proud of our team's effort, and proud of our defensive intensity and pressure that we had from the start. And I'm also proud that we were able to make big shots down the stretch when we needed them most. I was very proud of them for that. We put in a 'Plan B,' but we just did not change anything. (At BC) we let them do what they wanted to do. Tonight we were more in control. The turnover difference was huge. They shot 54 percent from the field, but we were able to win because of our shot attempts. Theirs were low because of their turnovers."
Gartrell: "We didn't play hard at all up there. We weren't aggressive and didn't do the things we needed to do to win the game. Tonight we did. Up there we got outrebounded a lot. Tonight we didn't. ... When we got to the locker room as a team (at halftime) the only thing we could think about was to keep pressing on. We didn't even think about the clock or the points or the score at all. We just knew we had to come back out and continue to play great defense."
Beal: "Nothing was really different. I just got more aggressive, attacked the basket more, attacked the offensive boards more. That was really where most of my points came from. Offensive rebounding was a key to the game like the coaches told us. They're obviously big. You've just got to get around them and beat them to the ball."
What does it all mean?
That the Wolfpack is assured at least that .500 mark, and will be in one of the alternate post-season tournaments should it come up short of an NCAA bid.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Kastanek's 3-pointer from the right corner to make it 63-52 with 2:10 left.
NCSU: Won 2.
BC: Lost 2.
NCSU at UNC, Sunday, 2 p.m.
BC at Virginia Tech, Sunday, 2 p.m.