A Community Effort
NC State and Raleigh embrace the Wolfpack women's championship spirit. The record-breaking basketball team heads to Bridgeport, Connecticut, this weekend to face ACC foe Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen.
The day before the No. 3 NC State women’s basketball team played its final game of the season at Reynolds Coliseum, head coach Wes Moore and his players had a team dinner at a North Raleigh restaurant.
It was at a sit-down, white-tablecloth place, far removed from the campus hubbub of students returning from spring break, and nothing similar to the nearby fan favorites along Western Boulevard or Hillsborough Street.
Still, as the record-setting Wolfpack began to file out to the team bus, the well-wishing patrons stood up, dropped their cloth napkins and cheered as they watched the team leave the dining room.
“It is amazing what they have done in this community,” said Moore, the ninth-year coach who has guided his team to three consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championships and, thanks to Monday evening’s victory over Kansas State, four straight trips to the NCAA Championships’ Sweet Sixteen. “Part of it is winning, there is no doubt about that.
“But people also see what kind of players we have, what kind of team we have. Everybody has been unbelievable.”
This weekend, Moore and his team will travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut, looking to advance for just the second time in program history into a regional final game. The last time that happened was in 1998 when Hall of Fame head coach Kay Yow’s team beat top-seeded Old Dominion and second-seeded Connecticut in Dayton, Ohio.
That earned Yow her only trip to the NCAA Final Four in her 34-year pioneering career at NC State.
Rising to the Challenge
The Wolfpack will play ACC foe and fifth-seeded Notre Dame 11:30 a.m. Saturday, in a game to be televised on ESPN. The Fighting Irish handed Moore’s team its only conference loss this season.
Third-seeded Indiana will face second-seeded Connecticut in the game afterward, a game that will also be televised on ESPN.
The winners will meet Monday afternoon to play for a spot in next week’s NCAA Final Four at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
“We know we are going to have a big challenge there,” Moore said about his team’s trip to Connecticut. “We have gone to the Sweet Sixteen … now four years in a row. [Our players] are not satisfied with that. They didn’t come back to do that again.
“I think they are going to be hungry, going into a hostile environment.”
Last season, the Wolfpack twice beat top-ranked teams, South Carolina and Louisville, on their opponents’ home courts.
“Hopefully, we have the depth and experience to overcome any adversity we might face,” Moore says.
Berkoff Sets Record
And while the women’s basketball team is still chasing a national championship, another Wolfpack woman brought home an individual national title last week at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Atlanta.
Junior Katharine Berkoff of Missoula, Montana, won her second consecutive national title in the 100-yard backstroke, becoming the first Wolfpack women’s swimmer to win back-to-back titles in any event.
Her winning time of 48.74 seconds set the American, NCAA, ACC and United States Open records in the event. It’s the first time in NC State swimming history that a female swimmer set an American record.