Chapel Hill, NC - The North Carolina Tar Heels hosted local rival, the NC State Wolfpack on Sunday, February 21st as part of ESPN's Play 4Kay Week.
After topping the North Carolina Tar Heels, 80-66, NC State is now 18-9 and 9-5 in the ACC and North Carolina drops to 14-15 and 4-10 in the ACC.
"I couldn't be prouder of this team. To fall down the way we did, we knew North Carolina would come out and be the aggressor, and they came out firing threes from everywhere. It would have been easy for our kids to just say, ‘Hey it's not our day,' but they kept fighting," said NC State Head Coach Wes Moore.
"It took everything we had to get out of here with a W. With what we are trying to accomplish with our season, this was a critical game."
The Tar Heels shut down the Wolfpack early on, leading 24-13 at the end of the first. In a period where six fouls were called within less than five minutes, Carolina's freshman Stephanie Watts led with 11 points.
The NC State Wolfpack sunk in their first three-pointer that kicked off the second period to make them one for 11 in attempts. Three-pointers and free throw shots gave the first half to Carolina while NC State only shot 3 for 17 in three-pointers and managed 4 of 9 free throw shots by the end of the second.
North Carolina ran their largest lead during the second period, ahead 17 points while 7:59 remained in the second, but not for long. Two Tar Heel turnovers followed by a foul on Carolina's Watts gave State the chance to move in on the Tar Heels. A jumper from State's Carlee Schuhmacher pushed State ahead for the first time, 37-36 while 30 seconds remained in the second. It was State's Dominique Wilson's shot that gave NC State the lead at the half, 39-36.
"I have to give them a lot of credit for being under pressure and in a key situation, they made it work. November and December, we weren't a very good team. They have kept working and improving," said Moore.
The Tar Heels went into foul trouble early on in the third. Destinee Walker and Hillary Summers each with four fouls and Jamie Cherry and Watts both picked up their third. NC State put out the stops with four players in foul trouble, Jennifer Mathurin with three while Schuhmacher, Wilson and Chelsea Nelson each with four.
Watts led for Carolina at the end of the third with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists. The NC State Wolfpack led at the end of the third, 64-55.
A game worth fighting for and a total of 47 fouls between the two teams, NC State took the win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill for the first time since 2010, 80-66. Watts finished for the Tar Heels with 30 points and 13 rebounds. Miah Spencer led for the Wolfpack with 25 points and 10 assists, and Mathurin finished with 11 rebounds.
"This triangle is a special area for basketball. I don't think there's any place like it in the world where you have three major programs right here basically 30 min apart from each other," said Moore.
Two games remain for both teams until it's' time for the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC. On February 25th, the Wolfpack will host Florida State while North Carolina will visit Virginia.