A Coach’s First Season: “This One is Going to Hurt”

December 22, 2009
By Cherry Crayton

The NC State women’s basketball team made 11 3-pointers and led by as many as 13 points, but the Pack also had 30 turnovers and sent Georgetown to the free-throw line 37 times. The result? A game-winning offensive rebound and putback from the Hoyas’ Monica McNutt with about 13 seconds left to give Georgetown a 67-66 win Tuesday night in McDonough Gymnasium in Washington, D.C. (Box score at GoPack.)

“Oh boy, this is going to hurt. It’s going to hurt,” first-year Wolfpack head coach Kellie Harper told Patrick Kinas with Wolfpack Sports Radio after the game.

The Pack’s Emili Tasler, a redshirt sophomore guard, scored all 10 of her points in the final 8 minutes, including a layup with 1:51 left to put NC State up 66-61.

But McNutt had two key offensive rebounds for Georgetown (10-2). She was fouled when grabbing an offensive rebound with 1:27 and made her two ensuing free throws.

Then, McNutt had a steal and connected with Sugar Rodgers for a layup to pull the Hoyas to within one, 66-65, with 45 seconds left. Rodgers was fouled on the made layup but missed the free throw that could have tied the score. She got two more free throws after being fouled on a defensive rebound off a missed NC State layup. She missed both free throws, but on the second one, McNutt grabbed the offensive rebound and scored on a fade-away jumper in the paint with 13.7 seconds left to give Georgetown the win. McNutt finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds, and Rodgers had a game-high 19 points.

“The game doesn’t come down to one or two plays, but we are two defensive rebounds away from a win. And oh, that is so hard to swallow,” Coach Harper told Kinas after the game. “Two defensive rebounds and we win the basketball game.”

NC State had two opportunities to score in the final 13 seconds, but Tasler missed a shot from the perimeter with about a second left and junior Brittany Strachan missed a jumper off an in-bounds play as time expired.

“We got exactly what we wanted. We drew that up. It’s a play we run every day,” Coach Harper told Kinas in the post-game radio interview. “We decided to run it to Brittany because she had the game of her life, and I felt confident she could get the shot off. . . . It just didn’t go down.”

Strachan scored 15 of her career-high 18 points and the Pack made 7 3-pointers in the first half to build a 13-point first-half lead and go into the break up 39-32. Freshman Marissa Kastanek made all 4 of her 3-point attempts and finished the game with 15 points.

But the Hoyas scored 27 points off of NC State’s 30 turnovers, and the Pack  ran into foul trouble. Three NC State players — starting point guard Amber White, starting forward Bonae Holston and junior forward Tia Bell — each picked up four fouls with more than 5 minutes remaining, and Georgetown made 25 of its 37 free throw attempts while the Pack went to the free-throw line just nine times in the game, making seven.

“We had way too many turnovers, and we weren’t always in the right position and that’s something we’ve been working on in the past few days,” Coach Harper told Kinas after the game. “I think we did foul, and I thought we were being aggressive enough [on offense], but maybe not.”

With the loss, the Pack drop to 7-5 on the season. The team gets three days off for the holidays before returning to action on Monday, Dec. 28, when they host Seton Hall (8-4) in Reynolds at 7 p.m. Then, they’ll fly out West for a Wednesday match up against Southern California (6-4).

Look for blog entries about the trip to Washington and out West from Patrick Kinas, the voice of the Wolfpack women’s basketball team, in the coming days.

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