ACC Basketball: Boston College women 62, N.C. State 51
By Aaron Beard
RALEIGH ó Shayla Fields knew everything would be different when she and her grieving North Carolina State teammates took the court for the first time since coach Kay Yow lost her long fight against cancer.
Still, the senior knew it was where they all should be.
“I know if Coach Yow were here, she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Fields said Thursday night. “And if she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, then I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Boston College denied the Wolfpack its storybook ending, leading the entire way in a 62-51 victory that kept N.C. State winless in the ACC. Still, on a night that started with absolutely nothing going right, the Wolfpack turned in the kind of gutsy comeback attempt that would have made Yow ó who often stayed with her team through her fight because her players inspired her ó proud.
Sure, interim coach Stephanie Glance said her players wanted to win this game “probably more than any game in their entire life.” But on this night, winning became almost secondary to just getting back on the court again.
It was a small piece of an emotionally wrenching week for the Wolfpack (8-12, 0-5 ACC). On Tuesday, the team returned to practice for the first time. The next day, the coaches and players attended the campus tribute ceremony at Reynolds Coliseum.
Yow’s funeral is scheduled for Friday in nearby Cary, with her burial coming Saturday in her hometown of Gibsonville.
“We’re on a journey right here and this was the first step of the journey, for us to be able to play on Kay Yow Court and be able to represent her,” Glance said. “We’re going to keep playing through this. We’re going to keep walking through this together. We’re going to keep grieving and having emotion and doing all the things that we need to do to heal and on as people first, and as players and coaches second.”
Before the game, there was a moment of silence to honor the Hall of Fame coach who had more than 700 career victories. Her seat on the Wolfpack bench sat empty the entire night, draped with an N.C. State jersey bearing the No. 14 ó the number Yow wore in high school.
For much of the night, however, N.C. State looked like a team under the suffocating pressure of trying to play for Yow, a burden that only grew heavier as Boston College (17-4, 5-1) pulled further and further away. It looked nothing like the team that had taken highly ranked rivals North Carolina and Duke to overtime in close losses this month. After an early 11-2 deficit, N.C. State trailed 32-9 before heading to the locker room trailing 36-15.
N.C. State shot just 5-for-34 (15 percent) in the opening half, then saw the lead grow to 50-19 with 14 minutes left.
Then Fields hit a 3-pointer, followed by a driving score from Bonae Holston and another score from Fields. It was the beginning of a 22-2 run that suddenly made the impossible comeback look, well, possible.
The Wolfpack got within 11 points three times in the final 21/2 minutes, then got the deficit down to 58-48 on a 3-pointer from Fields with 40.7 seconds left. Finally, N.C. State got as close as 60-51 on a desperation 3 from Sharnise Beal with 17.1 seconds to play.
Still, when time expired, the fans gave the Wolfpack a standing ovation. The team huddled at midcourt while Glance quietly offered words of support.
Fields scored 17 points to lead Wolfpack, who shot just 26 percent for the game.
“It was a very emotional experience,” Fields said. “Just to hear little kids cheering us on, it was very special to me. I got very emotional at the end of the game because I was so happy they had stayed and cheered us on and supported us even though we were down by so many points. The fans, I think, led our comeback and inspired us to keep going and keep fighting.”
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