Coach Wes Moore joked on Sunday that when his undersized N.C. State women’s basketball squad goes through an airport it often gets mistaken for a miniature golf team.
No. 10 Duke has one of the tallest teams in the country.
But that didn’t matter a bit during the Wolfpack’s 10th annual Hoops 4 Hope game at Reynolds Coliseum.
Miah Spencer had 23 points to lead four players from N.C. State in double figures as the Wolfpack stunned the Blue Devils 72-59.
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N.C. State wore white and pink jersey’s in the game, which honors former coach Kay Yow and is dedicated to the raising awareness and money for the Kay Yow Cancer fund.
Several dozen students, alumni and fans rushed the floor after the win, the Wolfpack’s first in a Hoops 4 Hope game in five years and its first over a Top 10 team in the game.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our kids,” Moore said. “I know coach Yow would be proud of these kids. They fought and they battled and did whatever they needed to do to make things happen.
“We had the perfect storm. We knew we needed to shoot the ball well today and do a good job of contesting on defense. It was a great win for our program and our team. We’ll enjoy it for a day or so and get ready for our next one.”
Dominique Wilson added 18 points for the Wolfpack (16-11, 7-7 ACC). Jennifer Mathurin chipped in 13 with 12 rebounds and Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin added 12 points with six assists. N.C. State shot 32.8 percent from the field, but made 12 of 25 attempts from 3-point range and 22 of 26 from the free-throw line.
Duke (19-8, 10-4) got 19 points from Elizabeth Williams, 16 from Rebecca Greenwell and 13 points with 10 rebounds from Azura Stevens. The Blue Devils shot better overall (38.6 percent) than the Wolfpack, but were 3 of 18 from beyond the arc and 12 of 20 from the free-throw line.
“I thought the environment was absolutely incredible,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, who was denied her 100th ACC win. “I wish it could be that way every game every place we play. I think Kay Yow would have been so proud today.
“It was a very special day, but not for Duke. Basically the game was very simple. (N.C. State) shot 48 percent from the 3-point line and (21.2 percent) inside the arc and we didn’t do much to stop that. It’s not good enough in our league to play in spurts. We had 18 of the worst turnovers I’ve ever seen. ... I’m not happy with the team right now. I wish they could walk home.”
N.C. State, whose starters average height is 5 feet, 9 inches, committed just seven turnovers. Duke’s average height is 6-2.
“We all stuck in together and executed the things we needed to do to get the win,” said Spencer, who is 5-8. “I was guarding a 6-5 girl (Stevens) tonight and I knew it was going to be a challenge. But all coach said was ‘they don’t have any perimeter shooters except (Greenwell), just clog the paint and help down in.”
“I think winning on Thursday gave us hope,” said Brown-Hoskin, whose 3-pointer in the closing seconds finished a 68-65 comeback win against Miami. “It helped us play together tonight. When Duke made runs, we didn’t hang our heads. We fought back.”
N.C. State, which leads the all-time series 41-35, has won just three of its past 21 games against Duke.
The Wolfpack led 31-25 at the half following Spencer’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Duke took a 35-34 lead early in the second half, but Mathurin’s 3-pointer at with 15 minutes, 58 seconds left put N.C. State ahead for good.
“We honestly just didn’t finish up,” said Williams, who had eight rebounds to pass 1,000 for her career. “I can’t even tell you how many layups we missed. We got a lot of the looks we wanted, but we just didn’t convert. There were a lot of things we could have done better.”
Duke visits Georgia Tech on Thursday night while the Wolfpack is at Florida State. Both teams close the regular season on Sunday, with N.C. State hosting No. 4 Notre Dame at 2 p.m. and Duke hosting No. 17 North Carolina at 3 p.m.