GREENSBORO, N.C. - For the fourth-straight season, the NC State women's basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, defeating Clemson, 56-45, in the first round Thursday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum.
NC State (16-15, 7-11 ACC) took down Clemson (9-21, 5-13 ACC) in all three meetings this season, marking the first time the Wolfpack defeated an opponent three times in one season since beating Maryland on three occasions in 1995-96.
"We're excited to be moving on," said head coach Kellie Harper. "It's really important for our players to understand that it's a great team win. Clemson came in fighting. We knew that was going to happen. It's tournament time."
The first half featured five lead changes, as the Wolfpack took a 17-16 lead with 8:57 remaining on a Breezy Williams three-pointer, but the Tigers countered with a 9-0 run over the next four minutes to grab a 25-17 advantage. NC State used a 9-4 run to close the half, and trailed Clemson by three, 29-26, at intermission.
The Pack shot 32 percent from the field and 3-of-7 (.429) from beyond the arc, while hitting 7-of-9 from the free throw line in the first half. The Tigers were 14-of-33 (.424) from the floor and did not attempt a single free throw, as NC State committed just two fouls in the half - both on the offensive end of the floor.
"I thought we were a little tight on the offensive end," Harper said. "Sometimes you see that in the first-round games. I thought they got after our guards a little bit. We just seemed a little bit out of sync. You have to give their defense a lot of credit for doing that."
The second half was a back-and-forth affair, as Clemson was only able to extend its lead to as large as four, after Chancie Dunn converted a three-point play with 6:14 remaining to make the score 44-40.
NC State saved its best for last and used a 16-1 run over the course of the final 5:07 - highlighted by a Kastanek three-ball to give the Wolfpack a 47-44 lead and a three-point play by Burke - to close out the game and seal the 11-point victory.
The Pack held the Tigers to 5-of-30 (.167) shooting from the field and 0-for-9 beyond the three-point line in the second half. Clemson finished the game shooting 19-of-63 (.302) overall, 6-of-7 (.857) from the free-throw stripe and just 1-of-14 (.071) from downtown.
NC State has held its last five opponents to an average of one three-pointer per game, and those teams are shooting just 5-of-64 (.078) beyond the arc.
Clemson was led by Nikki Dixon's 11 points and five rebounds.
The eighth-seeded Wolfpack will take on top-seeded Duke (27-2, 17-1 ACC) in Friday's quarterfinal for the second-straight year. Opening tip is scheduled for 2 p.m.