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March 5, 2010
GREENSBORO – Virginia guard Monica Wright showed the skills that have earned her two straight All-ACC first-team selections, but NC State knocked off the 19th-ranked Cavaliers, 66-59, Friday night in the ACC Tournament.
Wright, who scored 10 first-half points while playing through foul trouble, was held scoreless for the first eight minutes of the second half. Then, she took over. The ACC’s leading scorer tallied 22 points over the final 12 minutes of the game to keep the third-seeded Cavaliers in the contest.
NC State and Virginia battled through a fairly even first half, with freshman Marissa Kastanek hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wolfpack a 27-24 halftime lead. The Pack seized the momentum and ran with it to open the second stanza.
NC State extended the lead to eight when Kastanek made it 36-28 with a trey at the 16:45 mark. The Pack pushed the margin to 13 before Wright caught fire. Over the next seven minutes, Wright scored 17 consecutive points for the Cavaliers to pull UVa to within three at 53-50.
The Wolfpack withstood the onslaught and pushed the lead back to seven on a 3-pointer by Nikitta Gartrell with 1:47 remaining. NC State made seven of eight free throw attempts in the final 42 seconds to secure the victory.
“I knew Monica (Wright) had sat out quite a bit in the first half,” Kastanek said. “They weren’t the same team as they had been. I knew Monica would come out as a ball of fire. I knew we couldn’t come out satisfied.”
Kastanek paced the Wolfpack with 15 points while Gartrell (12), Brittany Strachan (11) and Bonae Holston (10) also scored in double figures.
Wright scored a game-high 32 points for her sixth 30-point game of the year. She also led Virginia with seven rebounds and a game-high five steals.
“We had a good comeback, but it was just wasn’t enough to seal the deal,” Wright said. “We dug ourselves a hole, and we usually get out of it. But this time, it seemed like it was too deep to get out of it.”
Sixth-seeded NC State (19-12) will face seventh-seeded Boston College in a quarterfinal matchup on Saturday. Virginia dropped to 21-9 with the loss.