No. 24 Wolfpack Upsets No. 1 Blue Devils In ACC Tournament Semis, 70-65
March 3, 2007
By Sarah Sue Ingram
An inspired N.C. State team, ranked 24th, knocked off No. 1-ranked Duke 70-65 Saturday in the semifinals of the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum and ended the Blue Devils' undefeated season.
Duke had been the nation's only unbeaten team, with a 30-game win streak.
N.C. State will play the winner of the Maryland-North Carolina semifinals in the ACC Tournament's championship game Sunday at 1 p.m.
"This game to me was like a 15-round fight," said N.C. State coach Kay Yow. "We took an early punch, got back up and hung tough. We were on the ropes a lot but were able to get the knockout."
Duke led 65-64 on two Allison Bales' free throws at the 2:11 mark just after State center Gillian Goring fouled out of the game.
State's Ashley Key hit a shot from the left wing with 1:18 left to give the Wolfpack a 66-65 lead. Duke's Bales put up a shot from the paint with 35 seconds left, but when the ball bounced out, State's Khadija Whittington skied it to snare the rebound.
The Wolfpack had shot a miserable 6-for-14 from the foul line prior to Sasha Reaves swishing two free throws with 18 seconds left. Key sealed the win with another pair of free throws with 7.3 ticks on the clock.
"Give congratulations to N.C. State," said Duke coach Gail Goestenkors. "They played with great passion and emotion. They played a high-energy game."
Duke is now 30-1 for the season and will await the brackets for the national tournament.
Asked if she thought one loss would hurt them in the NCAA Tournament seedings, Goestenkors said, "It hurts my heart. It's definitely better now than later. We will learn and grow from this."
N.C. State, 23-8, shot 51.7 percent from the floor and committed only four turnovers in the second half.
"We're usually very good in disrupting our opponents," Goestenkors said. "I don't think I've seen a team hit so many pull-up jumpers."
Key led all scorers with 21 points.
"It's an amazing win for an amazing coach," Key said. "I'm not an emotional person, but a few drips fell today."
Yow said, "I just thank the Lord that I can be here and be a part of this this year."
She missed 16 games during the season after a recurrence of breast-cancer but rejoined her team in late January.
"The game could have gone either way," Yow said. "Ashley Key had the job of guarding Lindsey Harding most of the night, Khadija Whittington was on the boards--she's the only one with a double-double against ACC competition, and she had a double-double tonight (13 rebounds, 12 points)."
Yow also praised Goring for securing rebounds, Sasha Reaves for hitting two critical free throws, and Shayla Fields for her ball-handling (just 2 turnovers in 36 minutes).
Duke led by 12 points four minutes into the game. Abby Waner hit her first five three-pointers and finished with 17 points, as did Bales, while Harding scored 10.
"We started off real strong, built that lead, but we didn't put them away," Goestenkors said.
Duke, which hit 19-of-20 free throws, led 61-53 with 6:17 left before Whittington scored from the lane, Key nailed a 3-pointer and Goring hit two putbacks.
Whittington, who split her lip Saturday after having stitches Friday, said she didn't have time to be hurt.
Yow said, "This emotion lifts me up; I feel stronger with this. Right now, I'm like K.D. We've got to keep going."