RALEIGH, N.C. – The 23rd-ranked N.C. State Wolfpack had everything related to the number three working to its favor when they beat the 12th-ranked Duke Blue Devils 55-52 in front of 4,657 in attendance at Reynolds Coliseum on Sunday.
Having beaten Duke (15-3, 3-2) twice in the two teams’ last two meetings, and having topped two previous top-25 opponents (Notre Dame, Florida State) this season, the Wolfpack’s use of the three-pointer was the intended weapon of choice in earning the win, the third in each of those circumstances.
N.C. State (14-5, 4-2) used the perimeter shot during the first half, converting 7-of-16 attempts beyond the arc while working inside the paint and at the free throw line to finish the job during the second half.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore said.
“It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure at times; especially second half, but our kids are warriors. They just find a way to win. Our word for the day was finish, and that’s basically what we did.”
Dominique Wilson led the Wolfpack with 16 points while Chelsea Nelson and Ashley Williams added 13 and nine points, respectively.
The Wolfpack took a commanding 35-21 lead at halftime after Wilson and Williams dropped successive three-pointers before the break.
While Rebecca Greenwell and Oderah Chidom posted matching 11-point finishes, an additional eight points each from Kyra Lambert and Lexie Brown wasn’t enough for Duke to earn the win in the dying seconds of the game.
“They were just denying us on the wings,” Greenwell said.
Outrebounding the Blue Devils 35-32, Nelson’s 10 boards, all in the defensive end, completed her seventh double-double of the season, and was critical to the win.
“Chelsea, what can you say?,” Moore said with a smile.
“I just love Chelsea Nelson. I’d adopt her if I could. She just works so hard, plays so hard. She’s gonna give you everything she’s got, every possession, and has turned into a pretty good player.”
Though capitalizing on a strong rebounding game that caused numerous turnovers in their 70-58 win over North Carolina on Thursday, Duke fell short in taking advantage of them against N.C. State.
“Playing 40 minutes is the name of the game and we didn’t quite do that,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“We played a great 20 minutes of basketball. Being down 14 at half, and showing what we’re capable of doing, forcing a team to go 0-for-12 from the three-point line after they hit quite a few in the first half. State’s a very good team and I think it’s very disappointing we didn’t finish our work…We didn’t play play well, we didn’t play our game.”
While the three-point shot didn’t help the Wolfpack in the second half, tenacious defensive play against the Blue Devils held them to 39-percent shooting after entering the game ranked ninth nationally in field goal percentage at 48 percent.
“This one will sting for a while,” McCallie concluded.
“We’ll use it to get better.”
N.C State: Dominique Wilson – 16 points, 5 rebounds; Chelsea Nelson – 13 points, 10 rebounds; Ashley Williams – 9 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists;
Duke: Rebecca Greenwell – 11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists; Oderah Chidom – 11 points, 4 rebounds; Kyra Lambert – 8 points, 5 rebounds; Lexie Brown – 8 points, 0 rebounds; 2 assists
N.C. State 35, Duke 21
Duke’s 2-of-13 shooting in the second quarter coupled with a 7-16 conversion rate beyond the arc for the half from N.C. State, created a large deficit for the Blue Devils to recover from.
Wilson led the Wolfpack with 12 points while Lambert’s six led the Blue Devils.
N.C. State outrebounded Duke 18-11, and outshot the visitors by a 50-38 percent margin.
Trailing by 14 points at halftime, Duke made it a game in the second half.
An 8-0 run quickly gave the Blue Devils confidence to keep chipping away at N.C. State’s lead, and eventually regained them the lead – one of 12 lead changes that took place throughout the game.
Similar to Duke’s poor shooting second quarter – a 2-for-13 effort- the Wolfpack’s 3-for-11 finish in the third made it a single-digit battle until the final horn.
Highlights: N.C. State 55, Duke 52- ACC Digital Network (TheACC.com)
Both teams started out hitting on all cylinders, matching shots with all four of five starters contributing for both sides.
N.C. State led 11-10 with 4;01 remaining.
Coming out of the TV timeout, the Wolfpack put together a 7-0 run led by Miah Spencer (6 points, 6 assists) and Jennifer Mathurin (7 points, 4 rebounds).
Back-to-back three-pointers from Williams put the Wolfpack ahead 24-15 heading into the next period.
Duke rebounded more effectively to slow the Wolfpack offense and trailed 26-17 with 6:30 to go.
Opposite to the opening period, both teams put up consecutive shots – four from N.C. State and five from Duke – that missed the mark.
A layup from Erika Cassell ended the drought as the Wolfpack reestablished a double-digit margin, leading 28-17 with 4:48 to go.
Once again, Duke remained cold late in the period while N.C. State heated up from beyond the arc.
The Blue Devils went 2-for-13 from the field.
The Wolfpack converted more effectively and capped the period off as Wilson and Williams drained 3s and put the Wolfpack ahead 35-21 by halftime.
Duke picked up its offensive pace with six straight points while turnovers plagued the Wolfpack early on.
With Chidom, Cooper, Brown, and Greenwell leading the way, an 8-2 Blue Devils run made it a 37-29 game after the first two minutes of play.
However, missed shots and turnovers from both teams highlighted the next three minutes until the media timeout.
A drive and a finger roll to the hoop from Lambert cut the N.C. State lead to six before Nelson answered back.
A turnover by Mathurin led to a feed from Greenwell to Chidom as the State lead was cut to 39-33 with under two to go.
The Wolfpack held onto a slim five-point (43-58) lead after enduring a three-plus minute shooting drought as Akela Maize and Spencer contributed.
Duke continued to cut its deficit as Brown’s work at the free throw line put the score at 43-42.
After a missed N.C. State shot, Brown’s first and only three-pointer put Duke ahead 45-43 with 7:57 remaining.
Two free throws from Wilson, State’s first points in the period tied it up.
It then became a battle in the paint as each team worked to outlast the other.
After Nelson put the Wolfpack ahead, the Blue Devils answered back with a layup from Faith Suggs to lead 48-47.
Once again Nelson worked the ball inside to put the Wolfpack ahead.
Greenwell’s layup gave the Blue Devils a 50-49 lead with four minutes remaining.
State continued to miss shots until Spencer’s layup put the Wolfpack ahead a minute later.
Coming out of the media timeout, Duke hit first as Greenwell dropped a three and the lead once again changed hands.
State led 53-52 with 1:18 remaining.
A missed shot from Wilson ended up in Chidom’s hands and the Blue Devils called a timeout.
A missed layup and a Wolfpack rebound didn’t materialize into anything and Duke had the ball again with 23.5 seconds remaining.
McCallie called another timeout with her team having the remaining shot clock to work with – 23 seconds to win it or lose it, still trailing 53-52.
With the shot clock down to eight seconds, Brown’s three-point attempt missed the mark and N.C. State’s Nelson pulled the rebound down.
It was Wolfpack ball with 5.2 seconds left.
Wilson went to the line and dropped both.
Duke had 4.5 seconds to tie it.
A foul to give by State then dropped the time remaining to 2.4 seconds.
Getting the ball on the inbound restart, Greenwell was then forced out of bounds.
The change of possession cinched the win for N.C. State as it inbounded the ball one final time and made the final outcome official.