GREENSBORO — Aislinn Konig and Elissa Cunane each scored 18 points and 10th-ranked North Carolina State won its first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship in 29 years, beating No. 22 Florida State 71-66 on Sunday.
Jakia Brown-Turner added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolfpack (28-4) in a tightly contested game in which neither team lead by more than six points throughout.
Kiah Gillespie had 15 points and nine rebounds for Florida State (24-8). Nausia Woolfork and Nicki Ekhomu each had 17 for the Seminoles, who have never won the ACC tourney title.
Konig proved to be a difference-maker in the second half and was chosen the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“This is an amazing team — and this is my family,” Konig said. “This has been my family for four years.”
After making just one of her first six shots in the first half, she went of 5 of 7 after the break, including three 3-pointers.
“We didn’t shoot it really well in the first half,” Wolfpack coach Wes Moore said. “But we knocked them down when we needed to.”
The game ultimately came down to a free throw shooting contest.
Cunane made 10 of 14 foul shots.
“For our system, you have to have someone like that inside,” Moore said of Cunane, who grew up just minutes from the Greensboro Coliseum.
With the score tied at 63, Cunane made one of two free throws and Kayla Jones added another foul shot to push the lead to two with 1:03 left in the game. Brown-Turner got a huge offensive rebound on Jones’ miss on the second shot and was fouled. She made both free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Gillespie cut the lead to three when she made one of two free throws with 50 seconds left. Cunane was fouled again with 43 seconds left and made one of two to increase the NC State lead back to four.
Ekhomu’s two foul shots cut the Wolfpack’s lead to 68-66 with 39 seconds left. Cunane went back to the line with 21 seconds left and again made of one of two.
Down by three, the Seminoles got an open look for Woolfork, but she missed a 3-pointer from the left wing and Cunane grabbed the rebound and was fouled. This time she made both free throws with 13.8 seconds left to help seal the win.
Florida State: The Seminoles came to Greensboro looking to improve their NCAA Tournament seed and did just that with a win over No. 4 Louisville in the semifinals and another strong showing against NC State. They’ll likely be a No. 5 or 6 seed in the upcoming tournament.
NC State: The Wolfpack likely sewed up a No. 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong finish after a shaky month of February. “We’re not done yet,” Konig said of the upcoming tournament.
Both teams will wait to hear from the NCAA Tournament committee on where they will be seeded.