Balanced Attack Sends Pack Into Vandy Title game
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A balanced scoring attack led NC State to its fourth-straight victory with a 76-67 win over Northwestern (La.) State Friday night at the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament.
Freshman Marissa Kastanek led all scorers with 16 points for NC State (5-1), while senior Lucy Ellison set career-highs with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Senior Nikitta Gartrell scored 13 and Tia Bell scored 10 – her third-straight double-digit scoring output off the bench.
Brooke Shepherd led four double-digit scorers for Northwestern State (2-3) with 13 points, while Lyndzee Greene and Trudy Armstead had 12 points apiece and Brittany Houston added 11.
A 10-2 run in the second half gave NC State a 64-54 advantage with 5:47 left to play. Ellison made four of her career-best nine free throws in the run.
The Lady Demons cut their deficit to six points on three occasions down the stretch, but a three-point play from Amber White (seven points) with less than a minute sealed the victory.
The Wolfpack did a nice job of getting NSU into foul trouble as two starters, Sherrion Thomas and Jessica McPhail, both fouled out in the second half, while two other players had four personals.
NC State took its largest lead of the game after a Kastanek three-pointer that made it 23-11 with 9:17 left in the first half.
NSU methodically whittled its deficit until finally tying the game at 37-all with 1:23 left until halftime. Ellison scored the final three Pack points of the half to give her team a 40-39 lead at intermission.
Ellison is the first NC State player to haul in 15 rebounds since Bonae Holston turned in 15 caroms against North Carolina in January of last season.
The Pack also had a season-high seven blocks, including three by Bell that moved her into sole possession of ninth in school history with 85, passing Wolfpack legend Andrea Stinson.
NC State will play No. 21/16 Vanderbilt at approximately 5 p.m., Eastern time tomorrow in the championship game at Memorial Gym.