No. 5 NC State women roll past No. 11 Georgia Tech in ACC
Feb 7, 2022, 3:03 AM | Updated: 6:01 pm
(AP Photo/Karl B. DeBlaker)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State coach Wes Moore has been pushing for more defensive urgency from a team with Final Four aspirations. The fifth-ranked Wolfpack turned in stretches of that, even with a sloppy finish to an otherwise dominating win.
Diamond Johnson scored 12 points and N.C. State built a big lead in the third quarter to beat No. 11 Georgia Tech 59-48 on Monday night, earning a key win in its pursuit of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s regular-season title.
“I’m never going to be completely happy, but yeah, for three quarters tonight — pretty good,” Moore said.
Raina Perez added 11 points for the Wolfpack (21-3, 12-1), who made things difficult on the Yellow Jackets defensively through the middle of the game. The Wolfpack led by as many as 23 and led by 21 with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter before Georgia Tech made a late run to salvage a smaller losing margin.
But the Yellow Jackets (18-5, 9-3) shot just 35% and had a long stretch that saw them miss 24 of 29 shots to turn a fast start into a massive hole.
“We knew we had to be physical (defensively) as well,” Johnson said. “We needed to hold our ground.”
Eylia Love scored 16 points to lead Georgia Tech (18-5, 9-3), which had more turnovers (four) than field goals (3 for 17) in the second quarter, then opened the third quarter with four misses and six more turnovers as the lead ballooned.
“They were tough,” coach Nell Fortner said. “They got in us defensively. … And I don’t think we responded real well. Normally that’s us doing that to teams. And tonight I think we felt a little bit of that.”
Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech entered a game back in the loss column of No. 3 Louisville and N.C. State at the top of the ACC standings. But aside from making 5 of 7 shots for a 10-2 lead, the Yellow Jackets couldn’t get stops while their offense was scrapping for any basket during the game’s critical sequences.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack’s stumble at No. 18 Notre Dame last week opened up the league regular-season race a bit, with N.C. State and Louisville each sitting with one loss and the Wolfpack owning the tiebreaker with a Jan. 20 comeback win. This was a significant hurdle for the Wolfpack in pursuing the program’s first ACC regular-season crown since the 1989-90 season, with Georgia Tech standing as the last ranked team on the schedule.
Georgia Tech entered with the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense (47.1) and No. 3 field-goal percentage defense (.328). But N.C. State shot 49% through the first three quarters and operated effectively until the final minutes.
N.C. State led 30-22 at halftime, then scored the first 10 points after the break — finally getting Elissa Cunane going in the post for three baskets followed by Perez’s turnaround and baseline drive that pushed the lead to 18 midway through the third quarter.
N.C. State wore pink uniforms for the annual Play4Kay Game, continuing a tradition started in honor of late Wolfpack coach Kay Yow to use a home game to raise awareness and money for the fund named in her honor to fight women’s cancers.
At halftime, cancer survivors came onto the court at halftime — grouped by the number of years they’ve survived the fight — to be honored. That moment included Georgia Tech associate head coach Tasha Butts, who was diagnosed earlier this season with advanced-stage breast cancer.
“Even though I’m a Yellow Jacket with a big GT on my chest, this game is so much more,” Butts told the crowd to an emotional ovation.
While versions of the game take place nationally, it’s always an particularly emotional event in Raleigh, where Yow was a Hall of Fame coach before her January 2009 death after a long cancer fight. The court in Reynolds Coliseum still bears her name.
“It’s special wherever you go and you stop and think and reflect, but you know what — it’s a whole other level here,” said Moore, who worked as an assistant under Yow.
The school said the event raised more than $324,000.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets visit Virginia Tech on Thursday.
N.C. State: Two road games await, first at Boston College on Thursday and then at nearby Duke on Sunday.
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