Now the freshman from just outside of town gets another one — against a much tougher opponent.
Cunane scored 22 points, and the ninth-ranked Wolfpack held on to beat No. 22 Florida State 69-62 on Friday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinal.
“It’s very special to me to play in front of my friends and family,” Cunane said. “I’m excited to see where we go.”
For now, that’s to the semifinals — to face third-ranked Louisville (28-2), the tournament’s second seed. The Cardinals beat N.C. State by 30 points last week.
DD Rogers added 16 points and Aislinn Konig finished with 12 for the Wolfpack (26-4).
Nicki Ekhomu scored 23 points for the sixth-seeded Seminoles (23-8), and she hit two 3-pointers in the final minute, including one that pulled them within 65-62 with 38.2 seconds remaining.
Rogers hit two free throws with 33.2 seconds left, and after Savannah Wilkinson missed a 3 in traffic with less than 20 seconds to play, Kai Crutchfield iced it with two foul shots with 16.4 seconds left.
N.C. State was 8 for 8 from the free-throw line in the final 1:12 — after missing seven of its previous nine foul shots in the fourth.
Florida State: The Seminoles were trying for their third semifinal trip since 2015. But a night after beating Duke in the ACC Tournament for the first time, they remained winless in this event against the Wolfpack — falling to 0-4 against them. Florida State had two freshmen in the starting lineup.
“It was a great experience for us, though,” coach Sue Semrau said. “It was an experience with a very young team to come in and play a top-10 team and to compete at that level. You can see the immaturity in our team. We’ll continue to grow, and this will be a great teaching tool going forward to the NCAA Tournament.”
N.C. State: The Wolfpack continue to play at a high level despite a remarkable run of injuries that has cost them their starting point guard (Kalia Ealey), a key post player (Grace Hunter) and an important reserve (Armani Hawkins). They found a way to win despite an off-night from leading scorer Kiara Leslie, who had 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
Cunane, whose hometown of Summerfield is about 15 miles north of the Greensboro Coliseum, put on a show in her first ACC Tournament game. The 6-foot-5 freshman hit the 20-point mark for the sixth time, finished one rebound shy of a double-double and popped out to swish a 3-pointer — just her fourth of the season — to put N.C. State up by 11 with eight minutes remaining.
“We’re comfortable with Elissa taking the 3,” coach Wes Moore said. “Obviously, we like her on the block.”
Both the Wolfpack and Seminoles appear safely in the NCAA Tournament field, so at this point it’s all about seeding. N.C. State, which was the top No. 3 seed in the NCAA’s latest reveal of its top 16 seeds, is almost certain to host a four-team subregional at Reynolds Coliseum. Florida State was a long shot to crack the top 16 and will have to be content with hitting the road for the tournament.
Florida State: Awaits its NCAA Tournament destination and opponent on Selection Monday.
N.C. State: Faces Louisville in Saturday’s semifinals.