Four score in double figures to lead Pack over UCSB
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – NC State used a 27-9 run to open the second half and the Wolfpack never looked back in a 64-55 win over UC Santa Barbara Sunday afternoon at The Thunderdome.
Khadijah Whittington led the NC State (4-2) comeback with 13 of her team-high 15 points in the second half and added to her Atlantic Coast Conference leading rebound total with 15 caroms.
Marquetta Dickens, Nikitta Gartrell and Shayla Fields each scored 10 points for the Pack.
Jenna Green led UCSB (1-4) with a game-high 21 points, while Whitney Warren and Jessica Wilson added 13 and 11 points respectively.
Whittington scored eight points in the opening 3:13 of the second half to spark the Wolfpack comeback that tied the game at 33-33. The Roanoke, Va. native opened the half with two quick buckets around the basket. She then blocked a shot on the other end of the court, which was followed by two more buckets and the seven-point halftime deficit was erased just like that.
After a furious few minutes to begin the second half, both clubs traded baskets over the next five minutes, but the Pack still led 38-35 after a Sasha Reaves layup with 12:10 to go.
Momentum really started to swing in favor of the Wolfpack as Lucy Ellison, Amber White and Whittington scored consecutive buckets to make it 44-35. Add the fact that Wilson, the Gauchos’ leading scorer, picked up her fourth foul with 9:51 to go and the visitors looked in position to post its first road win of the year.
A 3-point play by Wilson brought UCSB back to within three, 51-48, at the 5:45 mark, but on the ensuing possession, Fields answered right back with an acrobatic 3-point play of her own that put NC State back up by six points, 54-48.
The Gauchos would get back to within three points, 57-54, but Whittington and Fields canned back-to-back jumpers and the Pack never looked back.
“It was certainly a tale of two halves,” said interim head coach Stephanie Glance. “We cut our turnovers in half after turning the ball over 14 times in the first half, with only five in the second. Our shooting was better and our intensity was better. Our intensity rose to the occasion and with all the freshmen we have, maybe we turned the corner a little bit tonight.”
Fields knocked down her first 3-point attempt of the game to give the Pack a 3-0 lead in the opening seconds of the game. The Gauchos ran off six straight points for a 6-3 lead, but the Pack took back the advantage with a bucket by Dickens to make it 9-8 with 14:22 to go.
That wound up being the last lead NC State held in the half, because UCSB put together a 12-5 run, led by Green’s early 10 points, to go up 20-14 with 7:04 remaining in the first half. The Gaucho lead remained six points, 24-18, after a short jumper by Ariana Gnekow at the 4:21 mark, forcing NC State to call the game’s first timeout.
The lead swelled to as many as nine points, 30-21, after a pair of free throws, but a jumper by Nikitta Gartrell just before the intermission buzzer made it 30-23 heading to the break.
The Pack turned the ball over 14 times in the opening 20 minutes and that resulted in 16 points for UCSB. Green paced all scorers with 12 points for the Gauchos. Dickens and Gartrell each had six points for the Wolfpack.
NC State begins a six-game home stand on Wednesday against South Carolina at Reynolds Coliseum at 7 pm. The Pack will not leave Raleigh until after Christmas.
UCSB won the only other meeting between the two clubs back on November 22, 2002 to open the 2002-03 season…NC State entered the game with a 1-3 record all-time verses Big West Conference opponents. UCSB has lost four straight games…The Gauchos have won 11 straight Big West Conference Regular Season titles.