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March 4, 2011
GREENSBORO, NC – For the second game in as many days, the 10th-seeded NC State Wolfpack overcame a large deficit against a higher-seeded foe in the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament. This time, however, the Wolfpack was unable to complete the effort, falling 93-85 to the second-seeded Miami Hurricanes Friday night in quarterfinal action.
“I told our players they have really defined our program this year, defined it in a positive way: NC State’s going to fight,” NC State coach Kellie Harper said. “I take losing very hard, especially when it’s our last game. It’s hard for the seniors; it’s really hard for the coach of the seniors. But we knew Miami was going to be a challenge. It was going to be tough for us to continue to guard their All-Americans.”
“I was very clear with my team and with my coaching staff,” said Miami coach Katie Meier. “If we get a lead, we do not start subbing and playing for tomorrow. This is the last team in America that you start playing for tomorrow if you’re playing them. They are tough as nails.”
The Hurricanes led by as many as 19 points, but the determined NC State squad fought back to tie the game at 60 with 12:33 to play. Senior Brittany Strachan converted her second three-point play in a minute-and-a-half stretch to knot the game.
A day after coming from 15 down to defeat seventh-seeded Boston College, NC State used a 19-6 run to pull even against the Hurricanes. They tied the game at 60, 62 and 64, but Miami never allowed the Wolfpack to take the lead. Each time NC State evened the contest, Miami had an answer.
ACC Player of the Year Shenise Johnson notched her ninth double-double of the year with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Fellow first team All-ACC selection Riquna Williams added 22 points and six assists for the Hurricanes, who won an ACC Tournament game for the first time since their inaugural appearance in 2005.
Junior Bonae Holston paced NC State with her 10th double-double of the year, leading the team with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Amber White added 18 points and six assists, and Strachan finished with 17 points and seven boards.
The nation’s 10th-ranked team, Miami extended its winning streak to seven games as it improved to 27-3 on the year. The Wolfpack fell to 14-17. The Hurricanes will face the winner of Friday’s nightcap between third-seeded Florida State and sixth-seeded North Carolina on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Game 7 Notes:
Miami improved to 2-6 in the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Hurricanes’ other victory in the tournament was in their first appearance, in the opening round in 2005. Miami, the No. 9 seed, defeated No. 8 Georgia Tech 60-58.
Miami is the No. 2 seed in the tournament, easily the Hurricanes’ highest seed in seven appearances. The Hurricanes have been No. 12 (twice), No. 11, No. 10, No. 6 and No. 9.
The Hurricanes’ eight-game improvement in the regular-season standings represents the second-best year-to-year win increase in conference history. Miami went 4-10 a year ago in the ACC and finished 12-2 this season. In the late 1980s, NC State improved from three wins to 12 in a year.
NC State is 40-30 in the tournament overall, the third-most wins all-time. North Carolina, before its 8 p.m. quarterfinal, had 52 wins, and Maryland is second with 46.
NC State is 4-2 in the tournament under second-year coach Kellie Harper. Harper’s team was the No. 6 seed last season, but won three games before falling to top-seeded Duke in the championship.
Riquna Williams and Shenise Johnson, Miami’s two first-team All-ACC players, combined for 47 points. Williams (22) and Johnson (25) became the first teammates to each score 20 or more points in a game since Maryland’s Marissa Coleman and Christy Toliver in the 2009 finals. Coleman had 28 and Toliver 24 for the Terrapins.
Johnson, a 5-11 junior guard, has scored in double figures in 68 consecutive games, a record for active ACC players.
Miami surpassed the 90-point barrier for the sixth time this season. The Hurricanes entered the game ranked fifth nationally in scoring at 80.1 points a game. Miami is 6-0 when scoring 90 or more and 11-1 when scoring 80 to 89 points.
Bonae Holston had 25 points and 11 rebounds for NC State, giving her 46 points and 20 rebounds in the Wolfpack’s two tournament games.
NC State’s bench, behind 17 points from Brittany Strachan, outscored Miami’s bench 25-9.