NC State women rally past UNC; Duke loses at Virginia Tech

The Wolfpack erased a late 10-point deficit in regulation and then pulled away in overtime

Virginia Tech's Kayana Traylor, left, and Duke's Celeste Taylor compete for a rebound during the Hokies’ win Thursday in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Matt Gentry / The Roanoke Times via AP)

RALEIGH — Aziaha James led NC State back from a 10-point deficit with just over four minutes to play in regulation, then scored seven points in overtime to carry the Wolfpack to a 77-66 win over No. 19 UNC on Thursday night.

UNC was held to seven points over the final four minutes of regulation and did not score a field goal in overtime until Paulina Paris converted a layup with 20 seconds left.

NC State closed out the game on a 32-11 run, erasing a 55-45 deficit with 4:23 left. Jakia Brown-Turner drilled two 3-pointers in the final 1:38 of regulation, cutting the deficit to 61-60 with 31 seconds left. Kayla McPherson hit the second of two free throws to give UNC a two-point lead but James got to the basket and her layup tied the game at 62-62. She then stripped McPherson at mid-court and drove for a go-ahead layup, but the Tar Heels’ Deja Kelly appeared to get a finger on the shot and it was enough to keep the shot from falling.

James wasted little time in OT, driving for a contested layup to put NC State in front, 64-62, starting a 7-0 run to take control.

James and Brown-Turner each score 18 points to lead NC State (18-8, 8-7 Atlantic Coast). Brown-Turner hit 4 of 6 from distance and matched her season high. Jada Boyd finished with 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Mimi Collins had 10 points and eight rebounds.

UNC struggled from behind the 3-point line all night, hitting just 4 of 25 shots, but had success attacking the basket. Kelly was 0 for 5 from distance and hit 8 of 21 shots from the field overall, scrambling for 18 points and eight rebounds to lead the Tar Heels (18-8, 9-6). Paris scored 14 points and Kennedy Todd-Williams had 11 points and grabbed eight boards.

NC State travels to face No. 11 Virginia Tech Sunday. UNC returns home and plays host to Wake Forest Sunday,

No. 11 Virginia Tech 61, No. 9 Duke 45

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Elizabeth Kitley and Georgia Amoore each scored 20 points to lead No. 11 Virginia Tech to a 61-45 victory over No. 9 Duke on Thursday night.

Taylor Soule added 11 points for the Hokies (21-4, 11-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won five straight and eight of their last nine games. For the first time in program history, Virginia Tech has registered wins over ranked opponents in three consecutive games.

“We continue to do what we’re doing and play to this capability, there are a lot of teams we can beat,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. “I think (the Duke win) puts us in the upper echelon and it’s not farfetched to think about it. We’re right on the cusp of being a top-10 team.

“Probably everybody knows who’s the favorite right now, and I think there’s a lot of teams after that, that anyone can get there. I think that we’ve put ourselves in that position that we can get there and anything can happen. … The sky’s the limit for us. I really believe that. I know a lot of people say that, but I don’t feel like there’s a team out there that we can’t go compete with.”

Celeste Taylor scored 12 points for the Blue Devils (22-4, 12-3), who had their four-game winning streak halted.

ACC-leading Duke came into the game leading the conference in scoring defense (50.2 points per game), but the Hokies scored 51 through three quarters and also played stifling defense, holding Duke to just one field goal in the second quarter on the way to a 19-point halftime lead.

Virginia Tech put things away at the start of the second half, scoring the first seven points and extending its lead to 26 points. Duke couldn’t get any close than 16 points the rest of the way.

“When we play with confidence and when we really focus on defense and bring energy on defense, that’s when we’re the best,” Kitley said. “I think there’s no one we can’t beat.”

Kitley shot 8 for 18 from the floor and grabbed 11 rebounds. Amoore had four 3-pointers and shot 8 for 18 from the floor.

Duke shot just 34% (16 of 47) and was outrebounded 41-23.

“These games in our league are revelatory when you win and when you lose,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said. “You learn a lot about yourself. And you learn about where your shortcomings are. And then you can decide as a team like, are we going to be honest about our shortcomings and work to fix them? Or are you just going to kind of try to bury them and hope they don’t come up in games moving forward? And so, we had a lot of shortcomings tonight, and we’ve got to work on those to improve.”

Both teams play next on Sunday. The Blue Devils play at Virginia, while the Hokies host NC State.