GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)Coach Wes Moore knows what a huge boost it would be for the North Carolina State women’s basketball program to win its first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship in 29 years.
He’s just not quite ready to talk about it.
”We still have work to do,” Moore said Saturday after No. 10 N.C. State defeated Boston College 82-75 in the semifinals.
Aislinn Konig and Jada Boyd each scored 16 points, and the Wolfpack advanced to Sunday’s title game against 22nd-ranked Florida State, which upended No. 4 Louisville in the other semifinal game.
Elissa Cunane had 11 points for the Wolfpack (27-4, 14-4).
”You would love for them to be rewarded like that,” Moore said. ”It would mean everything, as far as our program and our fans. But now is not the time really to sit back and evaluate that.”
The championship is clearly on the minds of the N.C. State players.
”We’ve kind of came up short the last two (years) at least, and it’s exciting to be able to be in this position to really capitalize off of our capabilities as a team and the potential that we have for the rest of the postseason,” Konig said.
N.C. State made 10 of 22 3-pointers, including four by Konig.
Emma Guy had 19 points and seven rebounds for Boston College, while Taylor Ortlepp added 14.
Boston College (20-12, 11-7) knocked off Duke in the quarterfinals with a late run, and carried the momentum over into the first quarter on Saturday, jumping out to a 24-17 lead against N.C. State.
But Moore made a defensive switch, moving Jada to cover Guy on defense. That seemed to slow down the Eagles and N.C. State closed the half with a 31-6 run after making 7 of 13 3-pointers to take a commanding 48-30 lead into the locker room.
”You know me, I never panic,” Moore joked. ”I’m patient, cool. Again, got a lot of confidence in them that they can come back and turn things around.”
The Eagles trailed by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter before going to a full-court press.
Boston College trimmed the lead to seven with 9.2 seconds left but couldn’t make up the entire deficit. However, that comeback came with some Wolfpack players on the bench resting their legs for Sunday.
”All I can say is I love, absolutely love the fight in our team,” said Boston College coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. ”I think it could have been so easy after the bad second quarter that we had for us to kind of fold and just hang it up, but there was no such thing.”
The Wolfpack continue to rely heavily on the 3-pointer.
They went 13 of 13 from beyond the arc to open the game last weekend against Virginia. On Saturday, six different players made 3s for N.C. State in a balanced offensive attack. The outside game opened up the lane and the Wolfpack were able to find cutters for easy baskets.
Boston College: The Eagles failed to defend the 3-point shot well and their lack of height and quickness were problematic against N.C. State. They played their best when pressuring N.C. State full court. Now it’s a matter of whether they showed the NCAA Tournament committee that they belong in the postseason. ”I just hope we get to show the NCAA tournament what we’re made of,” Bernabei-McNamee said.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack have had a few hiccups in the final weeks of the season but now find themselves playing for a title. This win could be the confidence boost they need heading into the NCAA Tournament. For now, Konig is trying to stay in the moment. ”Winning is a lot of fun, so I guess it’s trying to make sure the urgency doesn’t turn into getting out of control and really staying patient and running the offense and finding good shots,” Konig said.
Boston College: Considered a bubble team, the Eagles must wait to find out if they’ll go dancing.
N.C. State: Will face Florida State in the championship game on Sunday. The Wolfpack defeated the Seminoles 68-51 at home on Jan. 16.
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