9th-Seed Demon Deacons edge the 8th-Seed Wolfpack
March 5, 2009
Cast in the undesirable role of ending the sentimental favorite's season, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons looked at the task from their own perspective and moved into the ACC Tournament quarterfinals today.
The ninth-seeded Deacs dispatched No. 8 N.C. State 59-54 to earn their first tourney victory since 2005. The necessary evil to it all was the elimination of the Wolfpack, which was inspired by the memory of coach Kay Yow, who died of breast cancer on Jan. 24. In tribute, State's players wore uniforms that replaced their names with "Yow." At halftime, a video montage encapsulating Yow's 38-year coaching career played on the Greensboro Coliseum's main scoreboard.
"Outside of basketball, that's a terrible thing that happened," said Corinne Groves, who led the Deacs with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. "But this is still a game of basketball."
Groves made up for missed time against an opponent that will be the cause of Wake's exclusion from the NCAA tournament if the Deacs (19-10) fall short. Afflicted with a virus once believed to be Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, she watched State's 59-51 win in Raleigh via computer from a hospital bed. She attended the second, a 65-63 overtime verdict for the Pack five days later, but she was confined to the bench and in street clothes. The illness wasn't as serious as first feared, but it did impact the 6-foot-3 post player's senior season.
"I felt I owed them something," Groves said.
It came due with a 13-2 run midway through the second half that repelled the Pack after it had closed a seven-point halftime deficit to 38-37. Groves and freshman point guard Brooke Thomas scored twice during the surge as Wake held its poise against a half-court trap that disrupted offensive flow but seldom generated turnovers.
Wake is, statistically speaking, an interesting team in that regard. Thomas averages five turnovers per ACC game, and she had nine of them today. But her teammates committed only three, and that's the sort of thing that explains why Wake leads the league in turnover margin.
"At times, we will take what I call unique shots, which is OK," coach Mike Petersen said. "You can rebound a shot; you can't rebound a turnover."
Another rookie, forward Secily Ray, grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, seven of which were offensive.
State saw an eventful, tragic and uplifting season end at 13-17. Assistant Stephanie Glance directed the team in Yow's absence and earned widespread acclaim for her work. State won four of its final six regular-season games.
"I told (Glance) that I voted for her for Coach of the Year," Petersen said. "No one in the country, in my opinion, has done a better job of coaching their team in the most difficult of circumstances than Stephanie. And this wasn't `Let's vote for N.C. State because it's the sportsmanship prize.' This wasn't the Miss Congeniality award. I meant it."
Nikitta Gartrell led the Pack with 16 points, Shayla Fields had 15 and Bonae Holston delivered 13.
Wake now gets another interesting assignment: Maryland. The Terrapins have won nine in a row and averaged 82 points per regular-season ACC game.
"I don't care how good a defense we play; 59 ain't getting it done," Petersen said, referring to today's winning point total. "Unless somebody in here has some Kryptonite that we can borrow, we're not stopping them."