by Mike Potter
Visiting today is Triangle ACC rival Duke, which is ranked No. 3 and the only remaining unbeaten Division I women’s team in the country. It’s a rematch of last season’s ACC championship game.
And tickets are on sale for just $1, with anyone holding a stub from the men’s basketball win over Miami at the RBC Center admitted free for the “Pack the House” promotion.
Duke (18-0, 4-0 ACC) will be heavily favored over the Wolfpack (9-9, 1-3), despite having to go to overtime to win 61-58 in Reynolds two years ago.
Duke trails by as much as 20 points early, but Chelsea Gray’s layup with 12 seconds left gives the Blue Devils a 65-64 win before a raucous crowd of 5,134.
The first half is a total shocker.
State takes its first lead at 5-4 on a 3-pointer from Myesha Goodwin-Coleman at 14:56 and steadily pulls away.
The Wolfpack goes on a 7-0 run ending in Marissa Kastanek’s 3-pointer at 9:33 to go up 17-5 and the margin keeps getting wider.
State’s largest lead of the half is 40-22, with Kody Burke hitting a pair of free throws at 20.3 to complete the scoring for the period.
Kastanek has 12 points and Burke 11 at the break for State, which outshoots the Blue Devils 51.9 percent to 21.9 over the half.
State makes it 42-22 on Burke’s jumper from the stripe at 19:15.
The Blue Devils cut it to 44-30 on Jasmine Thomas’ 10-footer with 16:39 to go, but the Wolfpack is still up 59-44 on Bonae Holston’s turnaround jumper at 8:42.
Then the run comes.
Duke cuts it to 61-53 on a Shay Selby layup at 5:43, and to 61-56 on a three-point play from Krystal Thomas at 4:13 that continues an 8-0 run to tie.
Burke hits one of two free throws at 2:25 to put State up 62-61. Krystal Thomas responds with a layup at 1:56.
Kastanek gives State its final lead on a pair of free throws with 29 ticks left before Gray gets the winner on a drive 17 seconds later.
Kastanek misses a good 3-point look with four seconds to play and Holston misses a follow jumper from the stripe before Krystal Thomas hauls in the clinching rebound.
Duke finishes shooting 39.1 percent to the Wolfpack’s 42.3. Each team has 39 rebounds, while State commits 22 turnovers to Duke’s 15.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “Give credit to N.C. State. They shot 52 percent (in the first half), they played well and they found each other. I thought N.C. State played a terrific basketball game and with a lot of heart throughout. (At halftime) we talked about who we are, what we do and how we play. I’d like to highlight Shay Selby and Kathleen Scheer. Our juniors decided they were seniors. They really made the difference tonight.”
N.C. State coach Kellie Harper: “We’re broken-hearted and disappointed. I thought in the second half we weren’t poised enough. The press really bothered us in the second half. We had done a much better job of stopping them in the first half. The tempo in the second half went completely their way. … When you get a lead like that, you start playing so as not to lose and you can’t do that. You’ve got to have confidence in how you played the first 20 minutes and realize you can do it again.”
Gray: “(On the final play) I was looking for Jas at first and then they were face-guarding her and the whole defense shifted to that side.”
Krystal Thomas: “(On the last rebound) I was just like, ‘Hold on! Don’t get a turnover. They missed a shot and that means we won.’ So I was just excited. I didn’t have a thought at all. .. Tonight was an unbelievable feat. It felt like we were making a run a lot of times throughout the second half, and we were still down 16, 14, 13. There was one point where we got down 10 and Jas said ‘We’re down 10! We’re down 10! Let’s go!’ and we just kind of keyed off of that. We knew from that point on we were winning no matter what.”
Kastanek: “I think the feeling that all of us have right now is going to fuel us for the rest of the season. Yes, it’s going to give us confidence, because obviously we can play with the No. 3-ranked team. Obviously we’re good enough to do that. It took a game like this — unfortunately we had to lose it — but there’s no more indecision about whether or not we can play with a good team.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke got the kind of miracle road comeback a team needs to be 19-0. And that N.C. State may be better than its record, but the Wolfpack needs a little more luck.
Stars of the game
2. Krystal Thomas.
Play of the game
Gray’s game-winning layup.
State leads 39-31.
Duke: Won 19.
NCSU: Lost 3.
Duke vs. Clemson, Wednesday, 7 p.m.
NCSU at Miami, Thursday, 7 p.m.