Notre Dame women shocked in loss at unranked NC State
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State pestered No. 2 Notre Dame defensively, fought to a draw on the boards and never let the Irish get their high-scoring offense rolling in transition.
The Wolfpack showed enough toughness, too, to hang on for a huge upset and a rare loss for Notre Dame since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Dominique Wilson scored 18 points to help N.C. State beat Notre Dame, 70-62, on Thursday night in the league opener for both teams, snapping the Irish's 35-game winning streak against ACC opponents.
"This is something that they'll cherish," Wolfpack coach Wes Moore said. "All night long on ESPN, that (score) is going to be going across the ticker. I may just go home and sit in front of the TV for an hour and watch it: there it goes again, there it goes again."
The Irish (12-2) came in with a 47-1 regular-season league record — the only loss coming at Miami in January 2015 — filled with blowout wins. Their 35-game win streak against ACC opponents had included three straight ACC Tournament titles since joining the league.
Yet the Wolfpack (11-3) never trailed and ran off a 16-0 burst spanning halftime to take a 19-point lead midway through the third quarter.
Notre Dame made a frantic fourth-quarter push behind Marina Mabrey to get within five, but got no closer in a performance that coach Muffet McGraw said was "exactly what we deserved."
"They outhustled us, they outworked us," McGraw said. "They threw some punches early and we did not respond. We were back on our heels the entire game. Just really disappointed in the way we played, in the effort that we gave."
Miah Spencer finished with 17 points for the Wolfpack (11-3), who went 6 for 6 at the line in the final 70 seconds to secure the program's first win against a top-5 opponent in nearly five years.
"I felt like this year we came in believing that they were beatable and we can compete with anybody," Wilson said. "And we showed it."
Mabrey finished with 22 points.
It's unusual to see the Fighting Irish sputter offensively, but they struggled from the field for three quarters. They came in averaging 81.9 points and shooting 49 percent, but never got Brianna Turner going inside and finished at 42 percent — a total boosted by their late charge.
Turner, Notre Dame's leading scorer at 15.9 points, finished with seven on 3-for-8 shooting before fouling out.
"We're trying to throw the ball inside and we couldn't complete a pass," McGraw said.
Simply put, this was a huge win for Moore, now in his fourth season. The Wolfpack patiently worked the clock, knocked down big shots including some key second-half 3-pointers every time ND tried to make a run.
N.C. State fought to a 37-all tie on the boards, an 11-all tie in second-chance points and outscored Notre Dame in points off turnovers (17-16). N.C. State also finished with the edge in fast-break points (11-7) also made 14 of 15 from the foul line despite coming in ranked 10th in the ACC in free-throw percentage (67 percent). ND was 4 for 11 from the free throw line.
"Really in every category almost," Moore said, "we did what we needed to do."
Ashley Williams said the mindset was key.
"I think that was a big emphasis on us being the aggressor and attacking them, and making them play defense as opposed to us thinking, 'Oh crap, here we go: I've got to play all these McDonald's All-Americans,'" the Wolfpack senior guard said.