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No. 3 NC State claims third straight ACC Tournament title with great play in middle of game

The NC State Wolfpack went on a 32-10 run from the end of the second to the first make of the fourth and held on to defeat the Miami Hurricanes despite missing their best player, Elissa Cunane, for nearly ten minutes with an ankle injury.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament Championship - Miami v NC State
Elissa Cunane and the NC State Wolfpack rose above the Miami Hurricanes.
William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Elissa Cunane scored 14 points from 6:42 in the second to 7:19 in the third and her No. 3 NC State Wolfpack remained hot when she left with an ankle injury at 6:40 in the third, running away from the party-crashing Miami Hurricanes for a 60-47 victory in the ACC Tournament championship game Sunday afternoon at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.

After No. 7 seed Miami (20-12, 10-8 ACC) went up 23-22 on a short jumper from Kelsey Marshall, No. 1 seed NC State (29-3, 17-1 ACC) closed the second quarter on a 10-0 run. Cunane made a short jumper and then a difficult lefty layup turned 3-point play. After that Kayla Jones picked up a loose ball offensive rebound and went up for an easy layup to make it 29-23 Pack. On the ensuing possession the NC State-friendly crowd helped force Miami into confusion and a shot clock violation. That opened the door for the Pack to hold for a final shot before the half and Raina Perez buried a three with two ticks left on the clock.

NC State extended its lead to 51-33 after three with five points coming from Cunane before she exited with the ankle injury at the 6:40 mark. Perez added a pair of mid-range makes in the frame and Johnson closed things out with a triple at three seconds remaining.

Johnson would then open the fourth with a three to make it 54-33 before Miami cut it to 13 with an 8-0 run. The Canes showed the fight they showed all throughout the tournament, but wouldn’t get much closer. They cut it 11, but Ja’Leah Williams missed a floater that would have cut it to nine with 1:42 to play and the Wolfpack took it the other way for a fast break layup by Perez that resulted in the final score.

Cunane was held to two points in the first quarter, but scored nine in the second and had seven boards at the break. She had 16 points when she left the game, came back with 6:56 left in the the fourth and finished with 17 and eight rebounds. Perez and Johnson had 12 and 11 points, respectively and Jones hauled in a team-high 10 boards.

Marshall poured in 24 points in defeat.

Four-straight points from Cunane put NC State up 22-18 at the 5:59 mark of the second quarter, but Williams responded with a three to cut it to one before Marshall gave the Canes the lead.

The Wolfpack scored a couple of inside buckets to open the second quarter and go up 18-12. After that, some bad shot selection by NC State allowed the Canes to come back on a 6-0 run that featured four points from Destiny Harden.

Miami went on a 7-0 run capped by a Marshall three to lead 7-2 early. NC State later went on a 7-0 run of its own that featured a three from Perez and made it 12-9 Wolfpack with 3:46 to go in the first.