SALT LAKE CITY — Grace Stone scored 22 points, including her fifth 3-pointer of the game with 4.7 seconds remaining, to lift 10th-seeded Princeton to a thrilling 64-63 win over NC State in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday night.
Kaitlyn Chen, who also scored 22 points, made a 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining to cut the Tigers’ deficit to 63-61 and then Madison St. Rose and Stone both came up with steals in the final minute to give the Tigers a chance.
On the NC State’s final possession, the Tigers created chaos, as they had all game long, and knocked the ball loose to prevent the seventh-seeded Wolfpack from getting a shot off.
The Tigers (24-5), who held the Wolfpack scoreless for the final 5:43 of the game, ran to the center off the court screaming for jubilation at their unlikely victory.
It’s the second straight season that Princeton has won a first-round game. The Tigers beat Kentucky last season before falling to Indiana in the second round by a point.
The Tigers men’s and women’s teams are the first Ivy League duo to both advance in the NCAA Tournament after the Princeton men team upset second-seeded Arizona on Thursday.
Mimi Collins scored 14 points and Madison Hayes and Jakia Brown-Turner each had 10 points but the Wolfpack missed their final five shots and had five turnovers down the stretch.
Aziaha James was the catalyst in pushing the Wolfpack’s (20-12) lead to 63-55 with a steal and back-to-back layups with 5:44 to play but they never scored again.
The Tigers scored the first 10 points of the third quarter but then went cold against the Wolfpack’s defensive pressure. NC State regained the lead, 55-51, by forcing 12 straight misses from Princeton over the final 6:52 of the period.
The Wolfpack started the game missing point guard and leading scorer Diamond Johnson, who has an ankle injury that has been hobbling her for weeks. They seemed out of sorts and missed their first seven shots.
To make matters worse, her backup James, who got the start, suffered a lower leg injury with 9:21 left in the second quarter and had to be helped off the court. She later returned to spark NC State.
But the Wolfpack used their physical advantage inside to stake a 41-35 halftime lead on the strength of post players Collins and Hayes both scoring 10 points off the bench in the first half.
The Tigers have now 16 in a row heading into a matchup with host Utah (the second seed) on Sunday afternoon.