by Mike Potter
And today the Wolfpack women’s team will continue it.
It’s undoubtedly a big one, as the Wolfpack (14-9, 4-6) will take on Virginia (16-7, 4-6) for sole possession of seventh place in the ACC.
The Cavaliers are coached by Duke alumna Joanne Boyle, and have been in town for the weekend after losing a tough battle at No. 23 UNC 64-56 on Friday night.
Five ACC teams — Duke, Miami, Maryland, UNC and Georgia Tech in that order — are fairly certain to get NCAA bids. And there will probably be one more spot coming from among the Wahoos, Wolfpack and Florida State.
The Wolfpack likely needs six wins to get it, and would have to beat every unranked team on the schedule and get one significant upset to get over the hurdle. That makes this one a “must” win.
And it’s Virginia that gets it, leading almost the whole way in a 55-47 victory.
The Wahoos score the first eight points of the game before Emili Tasler hits a jumper with 11:28 left in the half.
State is never able to lead in the first half, but cuts it to 22-21 at the break on a 3-pointer from Marissa Kastanek.
The Wolfpack takes its only lead of the game at 27-26 on Bonae Holston’s layup with 15:36 to go.
The visitors take over from there, stretching the advantage to 53-35 with 3:52 to go on an Ataira Franklin free throw.
State makes the final score more respectable with a 12-0 run ending in Kastanek’s 3-pointer with 37 seconds left, but can score no more.
Franklin leads the Cavaliers with 20 points, while Ariana Moorer finishes with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Lexie Gerson 10 points.
Kastanek leads the Wolfpack with 12 points while Bonae Holston chips in 10 with a whopping career-tying 16 rebounds. Holston gets 13 defensive rebounds to 12 offensive rebounds for Virginia.
Virginia outshoots the Wolfpack 35.1 percent to 29.1. State wins the rebound battle 41-37, but commits 25 turnovers to the Cavaliers’ 18.
They said it …
State coach Kellie Harper: “We need to give Virginia credit for coming in and being tough and doing what they do. They’re a consistent basketball team, and very tough defensively. I’m disappointed in our lack of execution offensively. We had a couple of good practices leading up to this game and I felt like all our players were on the same page. But we didn’t have the focus we have to have to get a win in the ACC.”
Virginia coach Joanne Boyle: “We just had a lot of energy. We talked about the Carolina game where we got behind and had to expend so much energy. I thought the kids made a great job of just showing up and playing hard, and we were more aggressive. And in the second half we switched (Telia McCall) to the top of the zone and switched (Franklin) to the back because they were getting a lot of their 3s in the corner. That gave us more size at the top and more speed in the back.”
Kastanek: “We didn’t utilize ball fakes as we should have or hit the open person to make the easy pass. We were making things hard for ourselves instead of doing the easy thing.”
Holston: “We’ve just got to come together now. Everybody’s got to be on the same page and have the same goals. We need everybody’s energy on the court and on the bench.”
What does it all mean?
That the Wolfpack is going to have to get on a really good roll to make the NCAA Tournament.
Play of the game
Franklin’s 3-pointer to make it 36-28 with 12:44 to go.
State: Lost 2.
Virginia: Won 1.
Virginia leads 37-31.
State vs. Longwood, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Virginia vs. Clemson, Feb. 12, 2 p.m.