12:00 PM ET, March 18, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Marquetta Dickens couldn't wait for the chance to end North Carolina State's losing streak in the NCAA Tournament. She felt the excitement build when the Wolfpack's home fans cheered loudly for ailing coach Kay Yow.And she got even more focused when she heard something else: a smattering of boos coming from the Robert Morris fans as the Hall of Fame coach was introduced. Once the game began, Dickens took everything out on the Colonials. The senior scored a career-high 25 points and the Wolfpack resumed its late-season surge by beating Robert Morris 84-52 in the Fresno Regional on Sunday, giving the program and Yow their first NCAA victory in six years. Fellow senior Ashley Key added 11 points for the fourth-seeded Wolfpack (24-9), who led the entire way and will play Baylor in the second round. N.C. State's last NCAA win came against Villanova in the second round of the 2001 tournament. Yow's team had lost in the first round in each of the past three seasons after missing the field in 2002 and '03. The past two losses to Middle Tennessee and Tulsa had come with the Wolfpack carrying a No. 5 seed each time, stinging defeats that had hung with this year's veterans all season. But now -- with the Wolfpack playing for Yow as she battles a recurrence of cancer -- N.C. State looks ready to hang around for a while. "They know as seniors they want to go further and this was their last chance," Yow said. "Their focus was really very good." N.C. State has won 11 of 13 since Yow returned from a 16-game leave to concentrate on her cancer treatment. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and it first recurred during the 2004-05 season. During an emotional late-season run, the Wolfpack beat state rival North Carolina on the night the school dedicated "Kay Yow Court'' in Reynolds Coliseum. Then, two weeks ago, the Wolfpack handed top-ranked Duke its only loss of the season in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Both teams ended up as No. 1 seeds in the NCAAs. Dickens' performance against the 13th-seeded Colonials (24-8) illustrated the players' loyalty to their coach. She came in averaging 7.7 points per game, but knocked down 10 of 15 shots. That helped the Wolfpack shoot 58 percent while playing in the RBC Center, home to the school's men's basketball team and the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. "One thing that really got to us was when coach Yow came out, the other fans didn't clap for her," Dickens said. "That really fired us up at the beginning of the game. We have a lot of respect for coach Yow, this program and what she's done. To be able to play for her is just motivation in itself." Dickens scored six points in N.C. State's 14-4 run to open the game, a double-digit margin the Wolfpack maintained the rest of the way. N.C. State didn't let up, getting a layup from Dickens off a turnover just 14 seconds into the second half en route to shooting 17-for-27 (63 percent) after halftime and leading by 39 points. Chinata Nesbit scored 20 points to lead Robert Morris, which shot 31 percent in its first NCAA Tournament game. "It was the ultimate challenge," Colonials coach Sal Buscaglia said. "Anybody that came in here in the first round would have had that challenge as well: playing them in front of their own fans and the emotion around the program. "It was an honor, quite honestly, to be on the same court -- even after 30 years of myself coaching -- with coach Yow."
|FG Made-Attempted||21-68 (.309)||37-64 (.578)|
|3P Made-Attempted||2-17 (.118)||1-5 (.200)|
|FT Made-Attempted||8-11 (.727)||9-13 (.692)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||13 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|