GREENSBORO — Last season, the No. 9 seed N.C. State womens basketball team shocked a top-seeded Duke team in the second round of the ACC Tournament.
The 8th-seeded Wolfpack (16-16 overall, 7-12 ACC) fell short of repeating history Friday afternoon, dropping the second round contest to the No. 6 overall Devils (28-2, 18-1), 79-65.
You have to enjoy these games; these are challenging games, Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. These are games that prepare you for the NCAA tournament. In my opinion, we stepped up.
Junior Alicia Listons 26 points and 11 rebounds paired with freshman Alexis Jones 18 points and eight assists paced the Devils offensively. Senior Marissa Kastanek finished with 18 points in her final ACC Tournament game of her career for the Wolfpack.
Following the game, McCallie joked that about Kastaneks shooting ability throughout the game, saying, We did try to defend her, in case you were wondering." An emotional Kastanek comforted teammate Markeisha Gatling as they exited the court.
We dont really know whats going to happen next, Kastanek said, referring to whether or not the team will make it to the WNIT Tournament. It was pretty emotional. I mean, its my last game in the ACC Tournament and we fought hard as a team. Im proud of all my teammates we never quit.
The two teams traded off three-pointers in the first half, with the Blue Devils going 8-for-12 from behind the arch and the Wolfpack hitting 5-of-13. Despite a late 10-4 run by the Pack, the Devils held a 42-33 advantage heading into the locker rooms.
After a 9-2 run to start the second half, State tied things up at the 12:25 mark when Kastanek won a footrace down the court for a transition layup and took the lead at the 11:19 mark, thanks to a second-chance layup by Markeisha Gatling.
But a three from Tricia Liston with just under six minutes remaining gave Duke a 58-57 lead they would not relinquish. The Packs shooting went cold, allowing Duke to go on a 12-1 run and take a 65-58 lead with 2:53 remaining, eventually outscoring State 26-8 in the final seven minutes.
While the Pack appeared to run out of gas down the stretch, McCallie said her team hunkered down, in order to pull out the win.
I thought we brought it to another level, McCallie said. In the closing part, we played our best. And thats what you want your team to do play your very best in the final eight minutes of the game
Duke will take on Florida State in the third round of play on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Smith: 919-829-8995; @RCorySmith