Women’s basketball falls to No. 4 NC State

Poor shooting haunted the Demon Deacons, who shot 31% from the field


Senior guard Ivana Raca scored 18 points in 34 minutes of action.

Essex Thayer, Sports Editor

In a massive matchup between a red-hot Wake Forest team and the No. 4 ranked Wolfpack, the Demon Deacons fell short in a big way. The loss leaves Wake Forest, who will play their final two games of ACC play on the road, squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble. The Demon Deacons are searching for their first tournament bid since 1988.

NC State began the first quarter on a 4-0 run, immediately putting Wake Forest on their heels. Following a two-pointer from senior Ivana Raca, Jakia Brown-Turner knocked in a three, giving the Wolfpack a five-point lead two minutes into the game. Trailing early, the Demon Deacons found a way to attack the lead; a three-pointer from senior Gina Conti and a two from sophomore Alexandria Scruggs brought Wake Forest within one. A bucket from junior Christina Morra gave the Demon Deacons their first lead of the evening. With 1:30 remaining in the quarter, Brown-Turner hit another shot for NC State, beginning what would become a 6-0 run in their favor, giving them an 18-11 lead. With seconds remaining on the clock, Raca stole the ball and found Scruggs for a buzzer-beating layup, bringing Wake Forest within three at the break.

Raca started the second quarter off with a three-pointer, tying the game. NC State responded with two buckets of their own from behind the three-point line, extending their lead to six. Wake Forest ended NC State’s run with a streak of their own, kick-started by Raca, who hit two shots from the free-throw line. Sophomore Olivia Summiel joined in with a big offensive rebound and put-back, and Raca made a jumper to tie the game. In a quarter filled with streaks, NC State responded once again with one themselves, scoring seven straight points, capped off by an and-one conversion by Kayla Jones. After a two-pointer from freshman Jewel Spear, the Wolfpack rattled off two consecutive three-pointers, taking them into the half with a 39-26 lead.

Three-pointers proved to be the Demon Deacons’ downfall in the first half, as they went 2-8 from behind the line, while NC State converted 5-11.

To begin the third quarter, the Wolfpack once again opened with a streak, scoring six straight points, extending their lead to 19. Much of the run can be attributed to sloppy play from Wake Forest, including on the defensive glass. There, Eliza Cunane, who was three inches taller than any Demon Deacon on the floor, grabbed several rebounds.

In the post-game press conference, Head Coach Jen Hoover expressed her feelings on the mismatch. “[Cunane] is one of the best post players in the country … she kind of had her way with us … she’s a great player who can score in a variety of ways,” she said.

With 5:56 remaining in the quarter, Hoover called a timeout with her Demon Deacons down by 18. Wake Forest responded strongly coming out of the timeout, scoring six straight points, including a spectacular falling finish from sophomore guard Kaia Harrison. Cunane broke the streak by using her frame to force herself into the paint, scoring an easy layup. With three minutes remaining in the quarter, Summiel knocked down a long three-pointer, causing the Wake Forest bench to erupt. The hype was soon quelled by a 5-0 run to end the quarter for NC State. That was the story of the night for the Demon Deacons, who would find short spurts, only to be beaten down repeatedly by long Wolfpack runs.

In the fourth quarter, NC State maintained their lead throughout, not giving Wake Forest any chance to insert themselves back into the game. A lone bright spot is that players who do not usually get much playing time were able to hit the court, including freshmen Demeara Hinds and Nevaeh Brown. Elise Willaims, an early enrollee from the high school class of 2021, also saw her first minutes on the court in a Demon Deacons uniform, scoring one point from the free-throw line.

On Williams’s debut, Hoover explained, “She’s just so coachable and just a winner … I just felt we needed to go ahead and give her that shot.”

Following a week off due to the cancellation of Duke’s season, Wake Forest will travel on the road for their final two games of ACC play against Miami and Florida State. The Demon Deacons currently are listed as one of ESPN’s “Last Four In” in their most recent bracket.