The Wolfpack extended their current undefeated streak to four games with an exhilarating 65-62 win over the 22nd-ranked Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
It turned out to be one of the most evenly matched and contested ACC games of the season between the two Triangle schools.
Dominique Wilson (19 points, 4 assists), Jennifer Mathurin (15 points, 5 rebounds), and Ashley Williams (12 points, 4 rebounds) powered the N.C. State offense.
Azura Stevens’ double-double performance (21 points, 11 rebounds) led the Blue Devils (12-6, 1-3), but by the end it wasn’t enough, even with Kyra Lambert and Angela Salvadores supporting with 12 and 11 points respectively.
The Wolfpack managed to keep guard Rebecca Greenwell to six points, well below her season average of 14 points per game.
“We were ready,” Wilson said.
“We practiced hard all week and we just focused. We didn’t care that we were at Duke. We knew if we did what we do every day, score the ball and then stop key players on Duke, we knew we were gonna win.”
The Wolfpack (13-5, 4-1) won its second straight over Duke following up on last year’s 72-59 upset victory over the Blue Devils at Reynolds Coliseum.
The loss snapped the Blue Devils’ 152-game home winning streak against unranked opponents, while giving N.C. State its first win at Cameron since 1996.
“Definitely a big one,” N.C. State Wes Moore said.
“Last year was very emotional because it was on Play 4 Kay Day. That’s really special, really special at N.C. State, especially having been there as an assistant with Coach Yow. So, for us to win last year, I think Duke was ranked 10th in the country at the time, it was a very emotional day. To come over here and do it on the road, it’s a big, big win – obviously an emotional win – just so proud of our players.”
Highlights: ACC Digital Network (TheACC.com)
Duke expected to have its hands full against N.C. State, and while shooting 49 percent from the field, 21 turnovers allowed the Wolfpack to score 30 points off of them.
Coupled with a 39 percent shooting performance beyond the arc led by Mathurin and Williams, N.C. State stayed in the game regardless of the pressure the Blue Devils applied as the lead changed nine times throughout.
“I think it was more hustle, more heart,” Wilson said of taking advantage of the Blue Devils’ miscues.
“We just wanted to come out and beat a big name. Honestly, that’s really what it was – more heart.”
While Stevens opened the game’s scoring with a quick jumper, Wilson drove the lane and gave the Wolfpack a 3-2 lead.
Mathurin’s three and a subsequent Wilson layup put N.C. State ahead further, leading 8-4 at the 6:36 mark.
Lambert pulled Duke closer, but Mathurin dropped another three to put N.C. State up by five, 11-6.
Mathurin powered State’s offense as her third straight three extended the lead back to five points.
“I just said ‘this is going to go in’,” Mathurin said of the internal focus she had in putting up her shots.
Stevens laid one in and a three from Salvadores pulled Duke to within two, as the Wolfpack held on to a 16-14 lead with 1:24 remaining in the quarter.
Leading 21-17 to start the second, Duke’s zone defense stifled N.C. State for a time.
Wilson eventually drained a three to end the Wolfpack’s nearly three-minute scoring drought.
N.C. State pushed its lead to 26-19 as both teams continued to trade baskets.
Oderah Chidom (4 points, 2 rebounds) pulled Duke to within one, but the Wolfpack still managed to hold on to the lead with under five minutes remaining in the half.
The Blue Devils’ tenacious rebounding and ability to draw fouls helped to pull them even as a free throw from Stevens tied it at 30-30 with 2:24 to go.
A layup from DD Rogers (2 points, 4 rebounds) put the Wolfpack ahead and two free throws from Wilson extended the advantage to four points.
N.C. State led 34-30 at halftime.
Stevens put together her own 5-0 run early in the third period and the Blue Devils led 35-34, all in a 91-second span.
Carlee Schumacher’s lone points of the game then put N.C. State back ahead.
Duke struggled to convert on back-to-back possessions while Williams and Miah Spencer (7 points, 3 rebounds) helped spark an 8-0 run with consecutive three-point conversions.
Mathurin dropped her fourth straight three in answer to Salvadores’ triple.
N.C. State led 45-40 with 4:18 to play in the quarter.
Missed N.C. State field goal attempts and foul calls provided the opportunity for Duke to tie the game, and Stevens’ free throw did that.
A layup from Duke’s Crystal Primm (4 points, 3 rebounds) gave Duke a 49-47 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Williams put the Wolfpack back ahead with a quick three.
Play continued with possessions and scores traded, and the game was tied 53-53 with 5:37 to play.
Stevens’ drop step and layup over Chelsea Nelson (8 points, 4 rebounds) put Duke ahead once more.
Coming out of a media timeout, Williams’ three, her fourth of the game, gave the Wolfpack the lead back.
More Duke turnovers created opportunities for N.C. State to pull ahead
Wilson drove the lane and put the Wolfpack ahead by three in the final minutes.
Greenwell made it a one-point game from the free throw line.
While N.C. State missed consecutive shot attempts, Duke’s inability to claim defensive rebounds allowed Mathurin to extend the Wolfpack lead to 60-57 with 45 seconds remaining.
Duke called a timeout to set up for its ensuing possession in seeking to tie the game.
When play restarted, the Blue Devils’ Amber Henson (2 points, 4 rebounds) was left wide open and put the ball up from beyond the three-point line.
It hit the rim and Williams claimed the rebound.
Spencer drained two free throws after being fouled to put the Wolfpack ahead 62-57.
Lambert’s layup with 15 seconds remaining made it a three-point game.
The Blue Devils’ press was on and it was a baseball pass from Williams to Wilson that helped advance the ball and earned her two shots from the free throw line.
Wilson missed the first and made the second.
A three from Lambert made it a 63-62 game with nine seconds left.
It wasn’t enough as Wilson received two final free throws which she converted to complete the victory for the Wolfpack.
“Duke made some great runs, the crowd got into it,” Moore said.
“Our kids didn’t back down. They just kept playin’ and found a way to get it done. I couldn’t be prouder of them. It’s a significant win because it’s hard to win games on the road in this league. We’re fightin’ our guts out to try to be an NCAA Tournament team. It’s big – it’s big for this team.”