March 03, 2007

(24) N.C. State 70, (1) Duke 65

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The perfect season is over for Duke.

Ashley Key hit the go-ahead jumper with 1:19 remaining and No. 24 North Carolina State gave top-ranked Duke its first loss, a stunning 70-65 defeat in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Saturday.

Key's jumper from the left wing made it 66-65. Duke worked the ball inside to center Alison Bales, whose short layup missed.

Sasha Reaves made two free throws with 18 seconds remaining to push the lead to three points, and Abby Waner's potential game-tying 3-pointer from the key failed to hit the rim.

Key then hit two free throws in the final seconds for the winning margin. She finished with 21 points for the Wolfpack (23-8), who continued their remarkable roll since Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow's return. Yow, who left the team for two months to fight cancer, has now led the team to 10 wins in 11 games since her return to the bench.

The Wolfpack will play in Sunday's final against the winner of Saturday's other semifinal matching No. 4 North Carolina and No. 6 Maryland.

Stephanie Glance, Yow's interim coach during her leave of absence, put her arm around the veteran coach after her team's second huge victory in recent weeks. The Wolfpack knocked off then-No. 2 North Carolina 72-65 on Senior Night when N.C. State renamed the Reynolds Coliseum court after Yow.

Now they've got a chance at even bigger things -- like the Wolfpack's fifth ACC tournament title and first since 1991.

Waner and Bales finished with 17 points apiece to lead Duke (30-1).

The Blue Devils were denied their first trip to the ACC title game since 2005, and the best start in school history was spoiled by a fired-up N.C. State team.

Gillian Goring and Khadijah Whittington had 12 points apiece, and Marquetta Dickens added 10 points for the Wolfpack, who earned their first victory over a No. 1 team since Jan. 12, 1978, when they beat Wayland Baptist 98-86.

They did it by frustrating the Blue Devils' two all-conference stars. Bales and point guard Lindsey Harding were a combined 7-of-26 shooting -- with Harding, the league's player of the year, finishing 3-of-13.

Early on, Duke seemed on its way to an easy win. The Blue Devils started with a 14-2 run and made 10 of their first 13 shots. But they suddenly went cold at the eight-minute mark, missing their final 11 shots of the half.

Meanwhile, N.C. State used an 11-1 run to make it a one-point game late in the first half. Shayla Fields' jumper in the opening minute of the second half gave N.C. State its first lead, 35-34.

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