N.C. State’s hot streak of beating the best teams in women’s basketball has come to an end, and so will its undefeated record in the ACC.
The Wolfpack (12-4, 2-1 ACC) had a chance to make it three straight wins over top-15 teams, with a win over No. 14 Miami (13-2, 2-1 ACC) Thursday night.
Down 11 with just over six minutes left on the clock, N.C. State worked its way back into the game. Senior guard Dominique Wilson hit a layup to tie the game at 62 with 1:43 left.
But the Hurricanes responded with two clutch free throws in the final 10 seconds that extended the lead back to 3. The Wolfpack made one last attempt to tie the game at the buzzer but missed, and the Hurricanes won 67-64 at Reynolds Coliseum.
Last week, the Wolfpack beat No. 2 Notre Dame by 8 at home. Then four days later beat No. 6 Florida State by 9 in Tallahassee. The only other team in the country that could claim that feat was No. 1 UConn.
“Obviously to beat Notre Dame that was a great feeling,” senior guard Ashley Williams said. “You do something that nobody in the ACC has been able to do. But then after the Florida State (game), to me that one felt even better. We were on the road, and FSU is just as good as Notre Dame in my opinion. And that showed people, ‘hey, we’re not messing around.’”
The Wolfpack were only a few seconds from school history. If they had won, it would have been the first time N.C. State had beaten three consecutive top-25 ranked opponents.
“Unfortunately were weren’t able to get a third one in a row,” Wlliams said. “I think that this one would have been huge too. I don’t know. It was awesome. But we’ve got to keep things in perspective. There are no off-nights.”
Because of those two wins, N.C. State climbed to No. 29 in the Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the USA Today poll. And Miami coach Katie Meier said N.C. State definitely had her team’s attention.
“I have never seen a team play harder than N.C. State at Florida State,” Meier said of the 70-61 win on Monday. N.C. State came from behind and outscored Florida State 24-12 over the final 10 minutes.
Thursday night’s game initially looked like it would yield a similar result as the Notre Dame and Florida State games. N.C. State got out to an early 7-0 start. Miami didn’t score its first field goal until a little more than four minutes into the game.
The reason the Wolfpack had been so good this season is because of their defense. Coming into Thursday night’s game, they ranked seventh in the country in defensive field goal percentage. Opponents only shoot 33.6 percent from the floor on them.
And after the first quarter, the Hurricanes had shot 33.3 percent from the floor. The Wolfpack led 23-13.
But things started to change after that. The Hurricanes started the second quarter on a 9-0 run, and ended up outscoring the Wolfpack 23-9 in the quarter.
By halftime they were up four. And for the rest of the game, Miami built on its lead before giving it up in the last few minutes. The Hurricanes finished the game shooting 45 percent from the floor.
The Hurricanes also controlled the glass, out-rebounding the Wolfpack 41-31.
N.C. State coach Wes Moore, who is in his fourth year as head coach, said his team didn’t talk a lot about the streak.
“We don’t really have time,” he said. “I always joke, Coach (Dave) Doeren has got it made. They got at least a week to prepare for the next one...Here it’s just bang, bang, bang. And in this league it’s brutal. I mean you saw it last night. Virginia Tech gets a win over at Duke and our men just completely dominated that game.
“So you don’t have time to feel good about yourself unfortunately.”
With the loss, the Wolfpack is now 4-4 against teams in the RPI top 100.
N.C. State will next play at Wake Forest on Sunday. Its next ranked opponent will be on Jan. 12 at No. 28 Syracuse, then Jan. 15 at home against No. 13 Duke.