After a long run to 21-0, the Wolfpack women’s basketball team was dealt their first loss of the season by the UNC Tarheels. The Pack played a great first two periods and going into the half the score was 32-31 and they looked like a team that was going to pick up their 22nd win of the season. Junior guard Ace Konig was on her game hitting 4-5 with two 3 pointers and four assists. Guard Kiara Leslie was 4-12 with two 3 pointers and although not all her shots were falling, she was getting consistent touches moving the ball.
When the third period started, it was though UNC had figured out the Pack’s game plan. UNC scored twice as many points as NC State taking a 10 point lead when the buzzer sounded to end the period. Although UNC sank three 3 pointers, almost all their points came under the basket. They were getting rebounds when it mattered, and more importantly the follow up shots fell. The Pack on the other hand was shooting from outside the box and when the shots did not fall, they just didn’t seem to muster a rebound sending the ball back to UNC.
Having watched this team compete all season, I did not count them out. In basketball, the game is not over until that final buzzer sounds. Ten points is a deficit but not one that the Lady Pack hasn’t overcome already this season.
The final period was played well by both teams but the Tarheels did not let up. They continued to play the game as they did from the start of the third period and the shots just continued to fall for them. The Pack seemed a bit deflated as the minutes and seconds ticked off the clock. When they needed the shots to fall, they didn’t. When they need a foul call, they didn’t get it. Things just did not go their way and it seemed that they had opportunities to take shots but may have questioned their abilities as they didn’t take them.
In the end, in my opinion, ball handling was an issue and has been for the Pack this season. NC State allowed 14 turnovers and those turnovers almost always lead to points for the Tarheels. Many of those turnovers also came at times when they could have been prevented by simply being more aware of your surroundings. I have seen it all season and kept saying that someone will take advantage of those mistakes by the Pack. I honestly thought Clemson was going to be that team but they could not muster the shots even though they had the take aways.
The Tarheels did their research and prepared for this game. They boxed out under the net, got rebounds, and took shots that fell. They just played a better game then the Wolfpack and it showed.
The NC State Wolfpack Ladies now fall to 21-1 on the season and 8-1 in conference play. They go on the road to Florida State to face the #24 Seminoles and then on to #18 Syracuse before returning home on Feb. 18th to play #5 Notre Dame.