by Mike Potter
N.C. State has had some disappointments this women’s basketball season, but the Wolfpack still has a chance for some late-season glory.
But unless Kellie Harper’s club wins the 34th ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament beginning today in Greensboro, its season is over.
In the nightcap scheduled at 8 p.m., No. 6 seed UNC (22-7) will be heavily favored over No. 11 seed Clemson (10-19).
Top-seeded defending champion Duke (26-3) will play on Friday at 3 p.m. against the winner of today’s 3 p.m. contest between No. 8 seed Virginia (16-14) and No. 9 seed Wake Forest (14-16).
No. 5 seed Georgia Tech (21-9) will square off with No. 12 seed Virginia Tech (11-19) in the tourney opener at 11 a.m. today.
State and BC split their two regular-season meetings, with the Wolfpack prevailing 80-69 on Feb. 24 in Raleigh.
“I think this time of year every team feels renewed because you wipe the slate clean and you get to start all over,” said Harper, whose team lost to Duke in the final last season.
“Our team has had some ups and downs. We lost several close games that have been tough for us, but we have been able to bounce back and work hard and continue to improve. We’re hoping we’ll have energy, we’ll be able to play smart and do some of the little things that maybe we haven’t done in our close losses.”
UNC, which comes in on a four-game losing streak, is definitely looking for some post-season redemption. The 19th-ranked Tar Heels, who lost to Maryland in the opening round last season, are a lock for an NCAA bid but are currently on a four-game losing streak.
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell has been very disappointed with her team’s play in a 60-47 win at Clemson on Feb. 10 that was her team’s most recent victory.
“It’s a great time of the year in Greensboro,” Hatchell said. “There’s no doubt we have the best tournament. … It’s a great tournament. I look at it and say ‘Wow.’ I think anybody could win. It’s just a matter of who goes over there to play and is focused and has kids who are able to do the little things.
“We’ve got some exceptional teams in the conference this year. I think even just the last couple weeks some teams have played real well and we’re probably the one that hasn’t. We’re just trying to refocus and get ready to play Clemson.”
With the first-round bye, eighth-ranked Duke has the luxury of needing just three wins instead of four to repeat as champion.
“We’re obviously really excited for another season to begin in the ACC Tournament,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “It’s a great tournament and the folks in Greensboro do such an amazing job. We’re excited and just getting ready to play.
“We’re just always wanting to get better. We had a great crowd at Cameron on Sunday to celebrate three incredible seniors and a team that’s been through a lot of adversity. We’re trying to get healthy — we don’t have Chelsea Gray back — we’re working on the little things we do and to get into attack mode.”
Friday’s ACC Tournament games
(At Greensboro Coliseum)
Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech, 11 a.m.
Video: FSN South
Records: GT 21-9; VT 11-18.
Coaches’ records — GT: MaChelle Joseph 150-95 at GT; VT: Beth Dunkenberger 175-153, 110-103 at VT.
Leading scorers — GT: Alex Montgomery 14.1; VT: Shanel Harrison 12.3.
Leading rebounders — GT: Alex Montgomery 8.6; VT: Shanel Harrison 5.5.
Assist leaders — GT: Metra Walthour 4.0; VT: Nikki Davis 4.7.
Virginia vs. Wake Forest, 3 p.m.
Video: FSN South.
Records: UVa 16-14; WFU 14-16.
Coaches’ records — UVa: Debbie Ryan 736-322 at UVa; Mike Petersen 292-235, 104-108 at WFU.
Leading scorers — UVa: Ariana Moorer 9.5; WFU: Brittany Waters 11.9.
Leading rebounders — UVa: Simone Egwu 5.2; WFU: Brittany Waters 5.3.
Assist leaders — UVa: Ariana Moorer 3.1; WFU: Brooke Thomas 3.5.
Boston College vs. N.C. State, 6 p.m.
Audio: WKNC-FM 88.1.
Records: NCSU 13-16; BC 18-11.
Coaches’ records — NCSU: Kellie Harper 128-95, 33-30 at NCSU; BC: Sylvia Crawley 96-63, 58-38 at BC.
Leading scorers — NCSU: Bonae Holston 15.9; BC: Carolyn Swords 17.3.
Leading rebounders — NCSU: Bonae Holston 8.2; BC: Carolyn Swords 8.9.
Assist leaders — NCSU: Amber White 3.9; BC: Jaclyn Thoman 5.1.
UNC vs. Clemson, 8 p.m.
Audio: WCHL 1360.
Records: UNC 22-7; CU 10-19.
Coaches’ records — UNC: Sylvia Hatchell 853-301, 581-221 at UNC; CU: Itoro Coleman 10-19 at CU.
Leading scorers — UNC: Italee Lucas 16.2; CU: Kirstyn Wright 12.1.
Leading rebounders — UNC: Laura Broomfield 8.5; CU: Jasmine Tate 7.0.
Assist leaders — UNC: Cetera DeGraffenreid 5.0; CU: Bryelle Smith 3.3.