Wolfpack Outlast Seminoles to Win ACC Tournament
GREENSBORO, N.C. – In a game that provided twelve lead changes and nine ties, N.C. State defeated Florida State 71-66 to win the ACC Tournament Championship.
Led by the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Aislinn Konig, the Wolfpack held off a late push from the Seminoles to take home their first ACC Tournament crown since 1991.
“There are no words to describe the type of feeling that the whole team has right now,” Konig said after her 18-point performance. “This was a family that came together and really bought in and played together throughout this whole tournament. … To be part of this legacy of NC State that has had so many contributors from before us and will guarantee to have after us, it's amazing to be part of that.”
Konig, who scored in double figures in the four games leading up to Sunday’s final, made just one of six shots in the first half against the Seminoles. Heading into the second half, she stayed confident, waiting for the shots to fall.
It paid off.
“I'm surrounded by a coaching staff who has ultimate confidence in my shooting ability, so I knew I was going to get other looks,” Konig said. “I was able to hit those shots but their confidence in me and willingness to trust me is a big part of that success.”
Elissa Cunane, the Summerfield, North Carolina native, complemented Konig with 18 points and nine rebounds. She scored nine of here 18 in the fourth quarter after hitting seven of ten free throws in the final frame.
It was her defense in the last three and a half minutes that was most impressive, though.
After scoring a layup with 3:32 to play, her only field goal in the final quarter, Cunane stole the ball from Florida State’s Kiah Gillespie.
The Wolfpack missed the shot that followed but Cunane came up huge again, stealing the ball again from Gillespie off the defensive rebound. Cunane kicked the ball out to Konig, who drilled a three with 2:28 to play, tying the game at 63.
They never trailed again.
The Seminoles missed all five of their field goals in the final two minutes and N.C. State celebrated their first title in 29 years.
“I was so happy that we have a full house over here today and we're able to send them [fans] home happy and knowing that N.C. State is a champ,” Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore said. “Coach [Kay] Yow put this program on the map and we're just trying to take care of what she left.”
Yow, N.C. State’s first full-time women’s basketball coach, won four ACC Tournament championships in her 34 years in Raleigh, the last coming in 1991.
Moore said it’s been a long time coming.
“Walking out on her court in Reynolds Coliseum, seeing the banner up top that she put up there, it's been a long time,” Moore said. “For Coach Yow's legacy and the N.C. State tradition she built, this is pretty awesome.”
Florida State was impressive all tournament long and put up another fantastic game, with their big three of Kiah Gillespie, Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk combining for 59 of their 66 points.
It wasn’t enough to best the Wolfpack, though, who had two other players in double figures – Jakia Brown-Turner, who had a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Jada Boyd, who scored 10 points.
“Jada Boyd brings so much energy when she comes out there,” Moore said. “She’s so athletic, she makes plays for us. Jakia [Brown-Turner], what a day she had today. … She didn't play like a freshman this whole tournament. It's awesome to see somebody step up like that in this environment their first year.”
It was a phenomenal game to close out what was an incredible 2020 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament that had everything from upsets to domination.
Highlights and Notes:
- No. 13 Wake Forest won two games, upsetting No. 5 Virginia Tech 58-55 on Thursday to advance to play Florida State in the semifinals. Ivana Raca, who earned First Team All-Tournament honors, recorded a double double against North Carolina in round one (27 points, 13 rebounds), scored 16 against the Hokies and 18 against the Seminoles. The Demon Deacons will hope to make the WNIT field to continue their postseason play.
- No. 14 Clemson and No. 15 Pitt each pulled off first round upsets, knocking off No. 11 Miami and No. 10 Notre Dame, respectively.
- No. 6 Boston College upset No. 2 Duke 84-77 in the quarterfinals on Friday behind 26 points and six rebounds from Second Team All-Tournament selection Taylor Soule. The Eagles fell to No. 2 N.C. State 82-75 in the semifinals but gave the Wolfpack a run for their money. The Eagles were very close to making a Cindarella run behind ACC Coach of the Year Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. They await their postseason fate, crossing their fingers that they will hear their name called on Selection Monday.
- No. 7 Georgia Tech also tested the Wolfpack, falling 57-48 to N.C. State on Friday. The Yellow Jackets were electric, led by Second Team All-Tournament selection Francesca Pan, who scored 26 points against Pitt in the quarterfinals and 15 points against the Wolfpack. Like the Eagles, they will hold out hope that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will stick them in the postseason bracket.
- No. 4 Florida State and No. 1 Louisville had a spectacular showdown in the first semifinal on Saturday, with the Seminoles edging out the Cardinals 62-60.
- Louisville guards Dana Evans and Jazmine Jones put on a show for Jeff Walz’s team, combining for 65 points in two games. Jones also grabbed ten rebounds in both contests, giving her two double doubles. Evans earned a First Team All-Tournament spot, while Jones landed on the Second Team. The Cardinals are projected to be a two seed in the NCAA Tournament.
- As for Florida State, they were led by their big three of Kiah Gillespie, Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk. The trio combined for 141 points, 46 rebounds and 23 assists over the course of three tournament games. Woolfolk and Gillespie were named to First Team All-Tournament, while Ekhomu earned Second Team honors. The Seminoles headed into the final day of the ACC Tournament as a five seed in the Big Dance, according to ESPN’s Charlie Creme.
- For the champions of the tournament, No. 2 N.C. State, Aislinn Konig and Elissa Cunane shined, combining for 95 points in three games, including 36 in the ACC Championship. Konig was named MVP of the Tournament and First Team All-Tournament, while Cunane was named to the Second Team. The Wolfpack earned the ACC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and are currently slotted as a three seed, which would make them a host for the first two rounds of the tournament.