While the NC State women’s basketball season was unfortunately cut short, the team still went out on top at the ACC Tournament and left behind numerous great memories. Let’s take a look back at the five best moments from the 2019-20 season.
It was hard to exclude other huge wins like the Hawai’i Tournament victory over Texas and the upset over then-No. 13 Florida State, but no other regular season win showed as much as the upset over then-No. 9 Maryland.
The Terrapins were 7-1 entering the matchup against the then-undefeated Wolfpack inside Reynolds Coliseum, and they boasted an electric offense, ranked sixth nationally at 86.3 points per game. Behind double-doubles from sophomore center Elissa Cunane and junior forward Kayla Jones and an all-around excellent team defense, the Pack was able to hold Maryland to just 59 points.
Junior guard Kai Crutchfield had recently come off an impressive 23-point performance against Texas, and again ignited NC State’s offense by putting up 19 points on five 3-pointers. Crutchfield’s scoring antics helped lead the Wolfpack to establish itself as a true contender for not only an ACC title but even a national title.
The final 82-75 score of this game is deceiving, as the Pack began to rest its players after taking a 48-30 lead at the half. Louisville, the Pack’s biggest challenger in the ACC Tournament, had fallen minutes before the matchup, leaving just the Eagles and Florida State between the Wolfpack and an ACC title.
Realizing how close the team was to its first title game appearance in 10 years, NC State turned on the heat and scorched the Eagles by shooting 46.9% from deep. Cunane only played 16 minutes in the game, keeping her healthy for a potential matchup with the Seminoles, but still managed to put up 11 points in the contest.
Senior guard Aislinn Konig and Boyd combined for 32 points, with Konig hitting four triples, and the team scored over one point per possession for most of the contest, lifting the Pack towards its final challenge of the season.
After a period of sporadic shooting by the Pack, especially showcased in losses to Duke and Georgia Tech at home, NC State finally fell back into its groove in a big way. Not only did the team tie its franchise record of 14 3-pointers made in a game and set a season-high in percentage from downtown with 63.6%, but it broke the NCAA record for most consecutive made 3-point shots in a game.
The previous record was set at 11 by Bowling Green in 2016 and TCU in 1996, and the Wolfpack blew past that record with a jaw-dropping 13 straight makes from beyond the arc. Nine players saw minutes for NC State in the game, and all but graduate guard Kaila Ealey and Boyd made a 3-point shot.
Moore’s starting lineup combined for 12 3-pointers, as the Pack wrapped up its regular-season finale in an impressive fashion.
Redshirt senior guard Grace Hunter was one of the Pack’s go-to scorers last season until an unfortunate injury led to a shortened season for one of the locker room staples. Hunter battled all offseason and was able to see game time for NC State this season in a reduced role.
Hunter had been injured in the game against Duke in the 2018-19 season, so it meant a lot to be able to play again against the same team a year later. Though she went scoreless in the first three quarters of the game, Hunter saw that her team was down by three points with under four minutes remaining and saved the day.
Hunter hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52, then immediately hit another after Duke scored on the other end, bringing the score to 55-54. In perhaps the clutchest basketball moment from NC State this season, Hunter drilled a third 3-pointer in the last 40 seconds of the game, putting the Wolfpack up by five and ultimately giving the Pack a win.
The guard’s contributions to a championship culture were innumerable, and her road to recovery, as well as many epic moments for the Pack, makes her one of the best feel-good NC State sport stories in the last few years.
After defeating Boston College in the semifinals, the Wolfpack was matched up against Seminoles star Kiah Gillespie, who is now a current member of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, and the rest of the team that helped put together a 24-8 team. Although the Pack had defeated Florida State in the regular season, it was not going to be a walk in the park for NC State.
With 36 points combined from Konig and Cunane, the Wolfpack was able to battle through a hard-fought contest that both teams had put months of blood, sweat and tears on the line to reach. Konig hit four 3-pointers, and Cunane had her fair share of clutch moments, while the freshman duo of Brown-Turner and Boyd played beyond their age.
Konig was named ACC Tournament MVP after averaging nearly 17 points a game on a 40% clip from deep in her last three games, going out on top in her final season with the Pack. It took years of hard work and dedication for this team, but the NC State Wolfpack was once again able to claim the ACC title after 29 long years of waiting.