The No. 8 team in the nation upset the No. 1 team on Thursday in a highly-anticipated showdown. Meanwhile, an evenly matched game between No. 24 and a team receiving votes saw another big-time performance from the best player on the floor. Both games came down to the fourth quarter in what was an exciting night of basketball.
A clutch Kayla Jones 3-pointer with 27 seconds left proved to be the dagger in the No. 8 NC State Wolfpack’s 54-46 win over the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, SC, on Thursday night.
The win marked the third time in NC State program history that it defeated the No. 1 team in the nation and halted South Carolina’s winning streak at 29 games.
Jones took an open, straightaway 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and buried it, making the score 51-46 and breaking South Carolina’s back after its sophomore star Zia Cooke had just come up with a huge steal and fast-break layup.
On the Gamecocks’ ensuing possession after Jones’ shot, LeLe Grissett was called for an offensive foul, giving the ball back to the Wolfpack with 16 seconds left. From there, free throws iced the NC State victory.
Jones recorded a game-high 16 points and both she and Jakia Brown-Turner had point-rebound double-doubles for the Wolfpack. Brown-Turner scored 11 points and both players had 12 boards.
NC State’s star center Elissa Cunane played well against her counterpart, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
Boston was held to nine points and nine rebounds, while her frontcourt mate, Laeticia Amihere, notched an 11-point, 15-rebound double-double. Cooke and NC State’s Raina Perez scored 11 points each.
Perez made a momentum-shifting 3-pointer with 3:02 minutes to go that put NC State up 46-44.
In what was a low-scoring affair through the first three quarters, NC State led by three entering the fourth. Boston uncharacteristically took some long-range shots to help South Carolina get out of its funk. She made a 3-pointer that gave the team a 38-36 lead 1:24 into the final frame and a deep two with 5:04 minutes to go that made it 44-43 in favor of the Gamecocks.
NC State improved to 3-0, while South Carolina fell to 3-1.
Hillmon at it again as No. 24 Michigan Wolverines top Notre Dame Fighting Irish 76-66 | Box Score
The Wolverines (3-0) were led by Naz Hillmon’s 20 points and 11 rebounds and pulled away in the fourth quarter for the win. A 7-0 run from the 9:26-minute mark of the fourth to 6:48 minutes remaining is what gave Michigan the cushion.
Wolverines Hailey Brown (18 points), Leigha Brown (14) and Akienreh Johnson (12) all joined Hillmon in double figures. L. Brown played all 40 minutes, while H. Brown added six rebounds and four blocks to her stat line. Hillmon attended the block party as well — all three of hers came in the first half. Star guard Amy Dilk was held to six points, but dished out a game-high seven assists.
For Notre Dame (1-2), Maddy Westbeld led the way with 18 points and seven boards. Anaya Peoples (13 points) and Dara Mabrey (12) also reached double figures in the defeat.
The game was tightly contested throughout the first half. Notre Dame led 15-12 after the first before Michigan won the second 24-19.
The Fighting Irish could have had eight more points if they were perfect on free throws. Instead they went 10-of-18 from the stripe, while Michigan was 17-of-19. Notre Dame’s advantages in paint points (32-20) and points off turnovers (16-6) were not enough to secure the win.
Barring an upset loss to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on Sunday, NC State will be due for a rise in the rankings. South Carolina, on the other hand, will face the No. 23 Iowa State Cyclones on Sunday with a chance to bounce back and improve its resume.
Michigan will host the Wright State Raiders on Sunday, the same day Notre Dame takes on the IUPUI Jaguars.