RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Elissa Cunane scored 14 of her 28 points in the final 7:10 to lift No. 9 N.C. State to a 76-69 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday night.
Cunane also grabbed nine rebounds as the Wolfpack (13-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit and survived an incredible shooting performance by Virginia Tech's Aisha Sheppard.
Sheppard shot 8 of 15 from 3-point range and scored 28 points as the Hokies (10-3, 0-2) fell on the road against a top-10 opponent for the second time in five days. Sheppard tied the school record for 3-pointers. Taja Cole added 13 points and Elizabeth Kitley scored 11 for Virginia Tech.
Aislinn Konig scored eight of her 18 points in the fourth quarter for the Wolfpack. Kai Crutchfield added 12 points and Kayla Jones scored 11.
Virginia Tech led by three with 3 minutes remaining when Cunane scored in the lane and drew the fifth foul on Kitley. Cunane completed the three-point play, then made two free throws and a left-handed hook shot on N.C. State’s next two possessions for a 71-67 lead.
Virginia Tech led 26-12 in the third minute of the second quarter as the inside-outside combination of Sheppard and Kitley confounded the Wolfpack defense. Sheppard sank a difficult step-back 3-pointer on the wing across from the N.C. State bench before Kitley scored on the block for the 14-point advantage with 7:25 remaining in the second quarter.
But Konig made two 3-pointers and a fast-break layup in a span of 1:44 to quickly cut the deficit to six points, and the Hokies’ lead was narrowed to 33-28 at halftime. Jones sank three 3-pointers in 2:56 in the third quarter to help N.C. State turn a 38-33 deficit into a 48-40 lead, but Sheppard answered with a pair of 3-pointers late in the third quarter to help Virginia Tech climb within 50-49 heading into the fourth period.
The lead changed hands three times in the final period before Cunane put the Wolfpack ahead for good.
Virginia Tech: After losing by 24 at No. 8 Florida State on Sunday, the Hokies bounced back even though they couldn’t secure a win in their second straight road game against a top-10 opponent. Sheppard in particular demonstrated that she is capable of making difficult shots against anyone.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack had dominated on the boards and in the paint all season but struggled early against a Virginia Tech team that was determined to be the aggressor. Cunane and Konig were just good enough for N.C. State to pull out the win.
Virginia Tech: Returns home to meet North Carolina on Sunday.
N.C. State: Hosts Virginia on Sunday.
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