No. 5 NC State women sharp in 4th, pull away from Duke
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Offense has never been a concern for fifth-ranked North Carolina State with its depth of scoring options.
It sure carried the Wolfpack through a tight road game to maintain a hold on the Atlantic Coast Conference lead.
Jakia Brown-Turner scored 15 of her 19 points after halftime while N.C. State missed only one shot in the fourth quarter to pull away late and beat Duke 77-62 on Sunday, matching its best league mark in nearly four decades.
Coach Wes Moore knows his veteran bunch has the potential to shoot or play its way through any tight spot. This time, Brown-Turner had multiple key baskets to protect a narrow lead, and then the shots started falling from everywhere.
The Wolfpack (23-3, 14-1), which made 11 of 12 shots — 91.7% — in the fourth quarter and finished the game at 57%.
“It’s great having veterans, it’s almost like having extra coaches out there,” Moore said, adding: “I have total confidence in them that at some point, they’re going to get hot, get some stops and find a way to win.”
The late flurry included consecutive 3-pointers from Kai Crutchfield, Raina Perez and finally Brown-Turner with 2:38 left in a game-clinching 13-0 run.
“Those 3 balls, that’s our dunk,” Moore said. “When you have three straight 3s, that gets the crowd going and it gives you a lot of confidence.”
N.C. State made its last nine shots and didn’t miss in the final 5:50 of game action.
“We kind of got just lost (defensively) and we made some critical mistakes down the stretch that cost us the game,” Duke’s Lexi Gordon said.
That helped the Wolfpack reach 14-1 in ACC play since the 1984-85 season under late Hall of Famer Kay Yow. And the fourth-quarter flurry changed the the final margin between teams that spent much of the afternoon separated by six or fewer points.
N.C. State’s 31 points were the most Duke has ever allowed in a fourth quarter.
“It’s one thing to have a breakdown, the other team’s got to capitalize on it,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said. “To credit them, they did that. When they got openings, they fully took advantage and were able to score.”
Gordon scored 13 points for the Blue Devils (15-9, 6-8), who shot 53% in the final quarter themselves but just couldn’t keep up once the league-leading Wolfpack got rolling.
But Duke shot just 38% for the game, including 28% (9 for 32) through the second and third quarters while the game remained close.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack needed overtime to win at Boston College on Thursday to stay in control of a race to what N.C. State hopes will be its first ACC regular-season title since the 1989-90 season. The win against No. 11 Georgia Tech to start the week came in the last game on the schedule against a team currently in the AP Top 25, though the past two have shown it won’t be an easy finish regardless.
Duke: The good news for the Blue Devils coming into this one is that they’re healthier than they’ve been since Christmas after going 11 straight games missing at least one player or coach to injury, suspension or health protocols, including Lawson missing three games. Duke had lost four of six overall and fell short in its effort to follow a win against highly ranked Iowa in December with another big upset.
Brown-Turner made 9 of 11 shots overall, including all four of her fourth-quarter attempts for nine points. It came after she had managed a combined seven points on a pair of 1-for-6 shooting performances in the past wo games.
“I know my teammates they were telling me to attack and be confident,” she said, “and that helped me get through the second half.”
N.C. State got a scare when preseason ACC player of the year Elissa Cunane went down in a heap and hit her head on the court as she and Duke’s Onome Akinbode-James tangled for a rebound.
Cunane stayed down on the court briefly holding her head before slowly walking to the bench after a play that resulted in a double foul, with Cunane briefly leaving the bench before returning to start the fourth.
Cunane had eight of her 15 points in the final period.
N.C. State: Wake Forest visits the Wolfpack on Thursday.
Duke: The Blue Devils visit Virginia on Thursday.
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