RALEIGH, N.C. – It was an unfair fight between rivals.
The adrenaline surging from the graduating seniors transferred onto the scoreboard as the 18th-ranked N.C. State Wolfpack handed the North Carolina Tar Heels an 80-60 drubbing at Reynolds Coliseum on Thursday.
The Wolfpack’s graduating class contributed 59 points overall with Dominique Wilson leading the way with 19 points, closely followed by Ashley Williams who tallied a career-high six 3-pointers to lead four double-digit finishers.
Forward Jennifer Mathurin (13 points, 4 rebounds) and guard Miah Spencer (9 points, 4 rebounds) made efficient use of their playing time and contributed significantly to N.C. State’s 48-percent shooting on the night.
Junior forward Chelsea Neslon chipped in 10 points to go with seven rebounds and four blocks.
“It feels good,” all four seniors said in unison.
“It’s always nice to beat them,” Williams added.
Mathurin called it a “nice payback for last time”, referring to North Carolina’s earlier 83-70 win over the Wolfpack in Chapel Hill on Jan. 29th.
Jamie Cherry’s game-high 25 points along with 14 from Paris Kea and nine from Taylor Koenen was the strongest pushback the Tar Heels could provide.
Playing without two key scorers – Stephanie Watts and Destinee Walker – North Carolina didn’t have the experience to weather a storm that brewed from the opening tipoff.
“We didn’t want them to shoot 70 percent from the 3-point line again,” Wilson pointed out.
Highlights: N.C. State 80, UNC 60- ACC Digital Network (TheACC.com)
The Tar Heels never got that close, launching up attempts that missed the mark, many flying past the rim entirely throughout the game, while it seemed that everything was dropping through the basket for the Wolfpack.
“When they’re makin’ 3s, they’re hard to beat,” UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
“They didn’t make those in Chapel Hill, and they made those tonight.”
By the end of the first quarter, N.C. State led 30-14 and pushed that up to 54-33 at halftime.
The Wolfpack’s 13 made 3-pointers shrouded UNC’s six from the perimeter, and made the difference in establishing an insurmountable lead for the Tar Heels to contend with.
With the win, N.C. State extended its overall record to 21-7 and 11-4 in ACC play, sitting tied for fourth place, while UNC evened its ledger at 14-14 to sit at 3-12 and tied for 13th in the league table.
“I’m glad we came out here and put our foot on the pedal – we didn’t let up at all,” Spencer concluded.
“We came out playin’ together, and we were havin’ fun playin’ together – that was the most important thing.”
N.C. State: Dominique Wilson – 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals; Ashley Williams – 18 points, 6 rebounds; Jennifer Mathurin – 13 points, 4 rebounds; Miah Spencer – 9 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists
UNC: Jamie Cherry – 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists; Paris Kea – 14 points, 7 rebounds; Taylor Koenen – 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists;
N.C. State 54, UNC 33
Williams’ five three-pointers led the Wolfpack with three in double digits, including Mathurin and Wilson, who helped put together an explosive 56-percent shooting output to eclipse UNC’s 30 percent.
The first quarter was the beginning and end of this game.
UNC struggled from the field, scoring on only 4-of-20 shot attempts while N.C. State converted 10-of-17, four of those beyond the arc.
The Wolfpack’s 16-point lead after 10 minutes set them well on their way to victory.
Spencer took only five seconds to put the Wolfpack ahead 2-0.
Mathurin and Williams each followed up with 3s to push the lead to 8-0 within the first 90 seconds of play.
Kea soon dropped the Tar Heels’ first basket from beyond the arc.
N.C. State led 14-6 following an and-1 from Cherry.
UNC worked to cut the deficit further, with an underhand circus shot from Kea.
While Sullivan’s two free throws dropped, Wilson’s 3-pointer pushed the Wolfpack ahead 21-10.
A rebound and an individual effort up the court by Williams ended with a 3 as N.C. State held a 15-point advantage.
Cherry hit from long range before the end of the period.
The Wolfpack led 30-14 heading into the next period.
N.C. State put together a quick 9-4 run before Cherry began to answer back for North Carolina.
A drive and big arching scoop shot had the Tar Heels still trailing a hot-shooting Wolfpack squad 41-21 with 4:49 to go.
Though leading significantly, the Wolfpack had some trouble in scoring and foul trouble that allowed North Carolina to make some progress.
The Wolfpack led 43-29 with 2:55 remaining.
Williams’ fifth 3-pointer of the half and Mathurin’s third had N.C. State leading 54-33 at the half.
Both sides missed numerous shot attempts early, but traded baskets as well.
Wilson led a 9-2 N.C. State run early, putting the Wolfpack advantage at 63-35 at the 7:33 mark.
UNC managed a late period 10-0 run fueled by Cherry’s efforts, but stil trailed significantly.
N.C. State was up 69-49 heading into the final period, even while the Tar Heels won the period by a 16-15 margin.
With the game in hand, N.C, State utilized its bench and played at a slower pace controlling possession and working the shot clock.
Cherry kept grinding, as did Kea and Koenen, dropping baskets, paying the price for it physically, but never relenting or giving up nonetheless.
With 3:31 remaining, all Wolfpack starters were on the bench.
Two minutes later, Moore subbed them all in, called a timeout, and subbed them back out for one last acknowledgement from the crowd.