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N.C. State women advance to Final Four for first time since 1998 after beating Texas

2024 ACC Women's Basketball Tournament
Mitchell Northam
N.C. State guard Aziaha James prepares to take a free throw at the 2024 ACC women's basketball tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

The drought is over. Texas couldn’t stop them, and neither could an uneven court in Portland, Oregon.

For the first time since 1998, North Carolina State’s women’s basketball team is going to the Final Four. Behind an impressive performance of 27 points, six rebounds and four assists from Aziaha James, the No. 3 Wolfpack beat the No. 1 Longhorns on Easter Sunday at the Moda Center, 76-66.

It’s just the second time that N.C. State (31-6) is going to the Final Four — played this year in Cleveland, Ohio — and the first time under coach Wes Moore, a former Kay Yow assistant who took over the reins of the program in 2013.

There was drama before the game started as Moore and Texas coach Vic Schaefer noticed that the 3-point lines on opposites ends of the court weren’t of equal distance. Referees measured and confirmed their suspicions, but the two coaches agreed to play the game anyway.

"The two head coaches were made aware of the discrepancy and elected to play a complete game on the court as is, rather than correcting the court and delaying the game,” a statement issued by the NCAA said.

James was especially unbothered by the difference as she went 5-from-5 from beyond the arc in the first half and scored 21 points to help the Wolfpack build a 10-point lead at the break.

In the second half, it was fifth-year center River Baldwin who imposed her will on the game, scoring all 16 of her points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. N.C. State also got 10 points in the game from Mimi Collins, 11 points, five rebounds and five assists from Sanyia Rivers, and 10 points from freshman Zoe Brooks off the bench.

Baldwin's basket with 1:50 to play pushed N.C. State's lead back to 10 points and sealed the victory.

The Wolfpack outscored the Longhorns 16-3 on fast breaks and knocked down nine 3-pointers as a team to just one from Texas. N.C. State had control for the majority of the game, leading for 32 minutes.

Texas was led by Madison Booker, who scored 17 points.

Up next for the Wolfpack is a meeting on Friday in Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with undefeated South Carolina, the No. 1 overall seed in this NCAA Tournament. South Carolina advanced to the Final Four by beating Oregon State in Albany, New York, on Sunday.

N.C. State last played against Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks on Nov. 9, 2021, suffering a nine-point loss inside Raleigh’s Reynolds Coliseum.

This season though, N.C. State has played one of the toughest schedules in the country. The victory over Texas marked the ninth time this season the Wolfpack have beaten a team ranked in the Top 25 of the AP Poll.

Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.