RALEIGH — N.C. State women's basketball team knocked off No. 20 Vanderbilt 66-59 at Reynolds Coliseum on Sunday.
"Merry Christmas," State coach Kellie Harper said to the crowd after her team escaped with a tough victory over the previously undefeated Commodores.
The Wolfpack took control of the game early in the first half and steadily built its lead, bolstered by the strong performance of sophomore center Kody Burke and senior forward Bonae Holston.
Burke found her range outside and powered inside, finishing with a career high 21 points. Holston scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
The Pack led by as many as 12 points in the second half, yet needed to hold off the Commodores over the final five minutes. The Pack lead 58-50 with 5:33 remaining.
Vanderbilt cut State's lead to 62-59 with 35 second left after leading scorer Christina Foggie hit two 3-pointers to pull her team back into the contest.
But State made its free throws as Vanderbilt was forced to foul down the stretch. Holston knocked down two free throws, then senior guard Emili Tasler drained two more.
Vanderbilt is the first ranked team to play at Reynolds since No. 22 Brigham Young in 2002.
It was State's first home victory over a ranked non-conference opponent since a 74-58 victory over No. 18 Old Dominion on Nov. 26, 2001.
State finished 1-6 against ranked teams last season.
State freshman guard Krystal Barrett added nine first-half points. She gave the Pack production off the bench, attacking the basket with dribble-drives from the perimeter. She forced the issue and found herself on the free throw line.
The Pack entered half-time with a 34-24 lead after two free throws by Barrett and 3-pointer from sophomore point guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman with a minute remaining.