11:00 AM ET, March 2, 2007
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina State's players say Kay Yow's graceful fight against breast cancer has inspired their late-season surge. To listen to the coach, her players have been just as inspiring for her.And considering how the Wolfpack is playing, Yow is finding plenty of added strength through the most demanding part of the season.Gillian Goring had a career-high 22 points and 19 rebounds and N.C. State (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) dominated the second half to beat Florida State 76-49 in Friday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals.It was the Wolfpack's ninth win in 10 games.Shayla Fields added 13 of her 16 points after halftime for the fourth-seeded Wolfpack (22-8), who advanced to Saturday's semifinals to face top-ranked and unbeaten Duke -- the tournament's top seed. Duke beat eighth-seeded Virginia 79-58 in Friday's quarterfinals.The Wolfpack's recent push has come since its Hall of Fame coach returned from a 16-game leave of absence for treatment of cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 1987 and first recurred during the 2004-05 season."It inspires me to be back with them," Yow said. "It's a mutual thing. It's not just one way."Yow's fight -- which has included almost-weekly chemotherapy sessions this season -- has made her a sentimental favorite here. One fan of rival North Carolina even held up a sign during the game reading, "Carolina loves you, Coach Yow." And fans throughout the Greensboro Coliseum saved their loudest cheer for Yow during the starting lineups."I cried for a few minutes after I walked out because I appreciate the support," Yow said, her voice quivering in an emotional postgame news conference. "I wish I had the time to tell you what every team, every coach, many fans from every team, have written me. I know there were a lot of them in the stands who prayed for me. When I walked out and all the fans from the different schools started ... It was just overwhelming."So too was the Wolfpack's second-half performance against the fifth-seeded Seminoles (22-9). Florida State trailed 27-25 at halftime, but shot just 10-for-37 (27 percent) in the second half while being outscored 20-2 in the final six minutes to turn the game into a rout.Goring, a 6-foot-7 senior, finished 9-for-15 from the field and her 19 rebounds were the third-best single-game total in ACC tournament history."I committed my whole life to coming out and playing hard and being the most dominant player for Coach Yow," Goring said.She got plenty of help from Fields, a 5-9 sophomore who had struggled in recent weeks but bounced back with a solid performance. Fields went 4-for-5 from the field after halftime, including a 3-pointer that gave the Wolfpack a 50-36 lead with 11:34 left.Fields finished 5-for-10 for the game, an improvement on her 21-for-94 (22 percent) shooting -- including 10-for-47 from 3-point range -- in her previous 11 games.Senior Ashley Key also knocked down a pair of 3s early in the second half, part of N.C. State's 57-percent shooting after the break. The Seminoles got no closer than nine points after Fields' 3."The coaches said we had to be better than the person we were playing," Fields said. "I think we took that as a challenge to try to outplay our opponents."The Seminoles tied it at 29 on a basket from Britany Miller with 18:50 left, but Khadijah Whittington answered with a score inside on the next possession -- starting a run of seven straight points that put the Wolfpack ahead to stay."They're just a tougher team than we are," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. "They finished shots with a lot of contact and we couldn't finish our shots with the same kind of contact."
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||19-66 (.288)||28-60 (.467)|
|3P Made-Attempted||2-13 (.154)||4-12 (.333)|
|FT Made-Attempted||9-12 (.750)||16-26 (.615)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||21 (0/0)||12 (0/0)|