Maddie McCallie just had no frame of reference for this.
The Elon redshirt junior, daughter of Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, was playing in her seventh game for the Phoenix and making just her third start after sitting out last season after her transfer from Miami of Ohio.
But none of that mattered when she got to the free-throw line late in Sunday’s 69-66 upset win over N.C. State at Broughton High’s noisy Holliday Gym.
With eight seconds left and the Phoenix up by two points, McCallie beat the crowd noise by hitting two free throws for a four-point lead.
DD Rogers responded for N.C. State with a layup four seconds later. Lauren Brown hit the first of two free throws for Elon, and a long 3-point attempt from N.C. State’s Miah Spencer rimmed out as the Phoenix got what is probably the biggest upset in program history.
It was the first win in nine tries against the Wolfpack for Elon (6-2), which is 3-0 since McCallie became a starter. N.C. State, which will once again be denied a chance to jump into the Top 25, fell to 7-3.
Sunday’s contest was the first for the Wolfpack in seven days and the first for Elon in eight as both teams are on exam breaks.
“It’s a great win for our program,” said Elon coach Charlotte Smith, niece of former Wolfpack All-American David Thompson, who is still considered the consensus best player in ACC history for his role in denying UCLA an eighth straight national title as the Wolfpack won the 1974 NCAA Championship. “It gives us confidence any time we can play with a team of this caliber. We’re just a lot more focused than we were last year (when N.C. State won 84-51 at Reynolds). We’re better at taking care of the ball now.”
Smith knows a little something about big shots herself, as she hit the last-second 3-pointer that gave North Carolina the state’s only NCAA Women’s Championship in 1994, probably the most pressured shot in the history of women’s college hoops.
“Maddie has been awesome,” Smith continued. “We’ve talked a lot about being a better defensive team and Maddie is understanding the concepts. And she’s been shooting the ball well.”
Brown led Elon with a career-high 18 points, while McCallie – with her mother Sunday playing the role of Phoenix fan instead of Blue Devils coach – added a career-high 16 points, including four 3-pointers along with eight rebounds. Shay Burnett chipped in 12, and Malaya Johnson 10, and both fouled out.
“I just stayed calm and tried to knock the shots down,” said Maddie McCallie, an alum of Riverside High. “I might have hit some important free throws in high school, but nothing ever like this. And it was an awesome feeling to have my family at the game. I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given at Elon.”
N.C. State had four players in double figures. Spencer finished with 12 points – all in the second half – and seven rebounds.
Dominique Wilson and Jennifer Mathurin, with 12 points each, both fouled out, as did Chelsea Nelson, who finished with 10.
“We need to keep our hands off people instead of clutching and grabbing and trying to make something happen,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “We’ve got to learn that if we don’t get an offensive rebound we just have to get back and play defense. But give Elon a lot of credit. They attacked us.”
N.C. State shot 39.2 percent from the floor to Elon’s 42.6, pulled down 40 rebounds, including eight from Rogers, to Elon’s 29, but committed 18 turnovers to 13 for the visitors.
There were 10 ties and nine lead changes, with Elon taking the lead for good at 64-62 on a Johnson jumper with 2:08 left, after falling behind by 11 in the third.
“I thought the last shot was going in,” Spencer said. “I’ve been practicing from up to 70 feet. In the first halves I’ve been starting off slow, and I was more aggressive. Coach talked at halftime about how we needed someone to step up and be a leader, and I knew he was talking to me.”
The Phoenix led 28-27 at halftime behind six points from Brown.
Elon led 16-13 after one period behind five points from Jenifer Rhodes. Wilson had eight to lead the Wolfpack. N.C. State was up 10-7 after a Wilson 3-pointer at 5:53 before the Phoenix responded with six straight.
NOTES: Legendary late Wolfpack coach Kay Yow began her career at Elon, and Moore was one of her assistants late in her career at N.C. State. And former Clemson coach Cristy McKinney – who played for Yow at N.C. State – is Smith’s top assistant with the Phoenix. ... N.C. State hosts Western Carolina on Wednesday night at 7:30. ... Elon hosts High Point on Dec. 19 before traveling to South Carolina.