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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – NC State’s Raina Perez hit a jumper from near the left elbow with 2.1 seconds left as No. 5 Louisville lost a heartbreaker 58-56 to the No. 3 Wolfpack in Sunday’s championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Perez’s shot broke a tie game in a tense finish between two of the nation’s top teams in which neither led by more than one point over the final 4 minutes. And it secured the Wolfpack’s first back-to-back titles in program history.

Elissa Cunane scored 20 points to lead the Wolfpack, earning tournament MVP honors while beating the Cardinals for the second time this season.

On the winning play, Perez initially started to pass to Cunane rolling into the lane, but the point guard had to pull the ball back when the pass wasn’t there. Instead, she collected her feet and shook off six straight misses dating to the second quarter to cleanly bury the jumper for the second-seeded Wolfpack (20-2).

The top-seeded Cardinals (23-3) had a final chance to win it, inbounding the ball under their own basket with 1 second left. But two-time ACC player of the year Dana Evans missed a 3 off Kianna Smith’s inbounds pass at the horn.

It was a disappointing final play for Evans after she had struggled with her shot for the previous two games and the first half Sunday. After starting 2 for 11 in this one, Evans suddenly got rolling in the third quarter with multiple tough drives as well as a fourth-quarter 3-pointer to finish with a team-high 15 points.


N.C. State: The Wolfpack broke through last year for the program’s first ACC Tournament title since 1991, part of coach Wes Moore’s push to do ”special things.” Add another big item to that list, with the Wolfpack rallying from 10 down in the fourth quarter to beat Georgia Tech in Saturday’s semifinals and then rallying from eight down in the final 9 minutes against the Cardinals.

Louisville: The Cardinals claimed the league regular-season title and the top seed after edging N.C. State by a small win-percentage margin even though the Wolfpack took the only meeting, winning on the road while the Cardinals held a No. 1 ranking. The Cardinals rallied from seven down midway through the third quarter to push ahead 48-40 on Evans’ 3, then led 56-55 on Evans’ tough banked drive over Cunane inside near the 2-minute mark. But the Cardinals didn’t score again and ultimately came a play or two short of winning the program’s second ACC Tournament title.


Louisville’s Evans, Kianna Smith and Hailey Van Lith were named to the ACC All-Tournament Team. 


Both teams are headed to Texas to play in the NCAA Tournament as high seeds, with the Wolfpack possibly positioned to claim at No. 1 seed with Sunday’s win.

For the latest on Louisville women’s basketball, visit, follow the team’s Twitter account at @UofLWBB or on Facebook at


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