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WOMENS BASKETBALL


North Carolina State 54, Duke 51

North Carolina State 54, Duke 51

AARON BEARD
ASSOCIATED PRESS

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Aziaha James scored 16 points and No. 10 North Carolina State overcame three quarters’ worth of offensive struggles to hold off Duke 54-51 in a quarterfinal of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Freshman Zoe Brooks added 12 points for the second-seeded Wolfpack (26-5), including a critical driving basket past Taina Mair with 58.8 seconds left that made it a two-possession game. Yet this one came down to the final play, with Duke getting one final shot to tie the game after Mair tied up Madison Hayes to get the ball back with the possession arrow and 9.7 seconds left.

Mair raced the length of the court and to the right side before launching a 3-pointer over Hayes, but the ball struck the front iron. Duke’s Oluchi Okananwa got the rebound but didn’t have time to race back to the arc before time expired to end it.

N.C. State started the game by making 10 of 16 shots, but made just 12 of 41 (29.2%) the rest of the evening.

Okananwa had 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead the seventh-seeded Blue Devils (20-11), including Duke’s last basket on a drive with 38.4 seconds left to keep the Blue Devils within range. But Duke shot just 29% for the game, including 3 for 16 in the fourth quarter and 1 of 13 from 3-point range overall.

Aside from that early flurry from the Wolfpack, this turned into a defensive battle with both teams struggling to make shots. N.C. State had a stretch of 12 straight misses in a nearly 8 1/2-minute scoreless drought spanning halftime. And the teams came down the stretch in a one-possession game each unable to make anything, combining to go scoreless for 4 1/2 minutes with each managing long runs of missed shots.

Brooks finally ended the joint drought with her score that helped send the Wolfpack to Saturday’s semifinals.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The Blue Devils had advanced with a 70-58 win against Georgia Tech in Thursday’s quarterfinals. That marked Duke’s fourth win in five games, a stretch that had included a win at now-No. 20 Syracuse and a home win against the Wolfpack on Feb. 25.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack had a late-season hiccup coming down the stretch with losses at rival North Carolina and then one at Duke, though N.C. State closed with wins against Syracuse and Wake Forest to secure the No. 2 seed.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

North Carolina State athletics press release

March 8, 2024





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