Duke downs UNC 66-61 to earn berth in ACC title game

CorrespondentMarch 9, 2014 

  • Championship game

    Notre Dame vs. winner of UNC-Duke

    7 p.m.

Correction: This story incorrectly stated that the N.C. State women's basketball team would be making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament if chosen. This would be the first time since 2010 that the women's team will have played in the NCAA tournament.

GREENSBORO - N.C. State was no match for unbeaten Notre Dame on Saturday, falling 83-48 in the semifinals of the ACC tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Markeisha Gatling, the Wolfpack’s 6-5 center who is leading the nation in shooting percentage, did not play after suffering a bruised knee in Friday’s quarterfinal win over Syracuse, but it might not have mattered even if she had played.

Jewell Loyd hit 16 points to lead four players in double figures as the top-seeded Irish improved to 31-0 in their first ACC campaign. The Irish, ranked No. 2 nationally, will play the winner of Saturday night’s game between No. 10 Duke and No. 13 North Carolina for the title at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Kayla McBride added 10 points for the Irish, who got 10 points each off the bench from Madison Cable and Michaela Mabrey. No Notre Dame player was in the game for more than 24 minutes.

Miah Spencer led N.C. State with 11 points while fellow guard Len’Nique Brown chipped in eight. Kody Burke, who moved to center duties in the Wolfpack’s four-out, one-in offense, had four points, four rebounds and three blocks.

“It was a rough day and obviously a very humbling day,” said State’s first-year coach Wes Moore, whose team lost senior guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman and senior reserve forward Lakeesa Daniel to ACL tears on back-to-back days Feb. 20 and 21. “It’s hard right now to look at the big picture, but hopefully we can do that soon. We’ve just got to pick things up and maybe try to learn from some of the things that occurred today.

“Twenty-five wins is a great accomplishment, and we’ll do our best not to let one bad day overshadow what they’ve accomplished over the last few months.”

The No. 14 Wolfpack, who had lost to the Irish 84-60 on N.C. State’s Senior Day game on Sunday at Reynolds Coliseum, are 25-7 and certain to get their first NCAA bid since 2010.

N.C. State hasn’t lost to anyone other than Notre Dame this season by more than 13 points.

Notre Dame scored the game’s first 12 points, and the Wolfpack was never again within eight.

The Irish led 46-18 at halftime.

“I thought we played really well,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I thought we did a lot of good things defensively. I was happy with the transition game and the rebounding. It was difficult for North Carolina State without Gatling, and they’ll be fine. They just didn’t have enough time to prepare. I know she’ll be back for the NCAA tournament, and we wish them luck.”

Notre Dame shot 42.9 percent to the Wolfpack’s 31.0, won the rebound battle 47-30 and committed just nine turnovers to N.C. State’s 14.

“We just have to keep playing hard, every possession,” Spencer said. “I know we had some players that were out, but we have to pick it up ourselves and come together as a team.”

Added Brown, “We have to bounce back. No matter what, we have to play hard and play through.”

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