Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: State women vs. Louisville

Brett Friedlander

Reynolds Coliseum will be rocking with a sellout crowd tonight as the fourth-ranked NC State women's basketball team takes on No. 9 Louisville in a game that could decide the ACC's regular season championship.

It's the most important basketball game played in this old barn in a long time, at least since it was updated and renovated in 2015.

The Wolfpack comes in at 22-1 (11-1 ACC) riding high on an eight-game winning streak with its highest national ranking since 1999-2000. With a win, coach Wes Moore's team will have a two-game lead (with tiebreakers) over the rest of the league with just five games remaining.

The Cardinals (21-3, 10-2) are suddenly reeling, but they're dangerous if their shots start falling again. They're led by junior point guard Dana Evans, who like State's sophomore center Elissa Cunane, has been selected to the Wooden Award's midseason watch list.

It should be a good one with an electric atmosphere. Make sure to check here frequently for live updates and analysis fron tonight's epic matchup ...  

PREGAME

The Wolfpack will start with Aislinn Konig and Kai Crutchfield in the backcourt, Jakia Brown-Turner and Kayla Jones at forward and Elissa Cunane at center. That's the same starting five that his begun all 23 previous games this season. That's a major departure from the men's team, which seems to start a new lineup for every game because of injuries ...

FIRST QUARTER

Wolfpack forces a shot clock violation on Louisville's opening possession. Good start ... Now Kayla Jones scores on an offensive rebound and State's press forces a turnover. And man, is it LOUD in here ... 

Cunane called for an early foul. But she draw two quick ones on the other end ...

Louisville has shot 35 percent or worse in each of its last two games, both losses, and was held to a season-low 51 points by Syracuse last weekend. How well the Cardinals shoot tonight will go a long way toward deciding this one ...

State got off to a 6-1 lead, but Louisville has answered with a 10-0 run. Grace Hunter off the bench quickly for the Wolfpack ...

Twice now, Cunane has gotten beat by her Loiusville counterpart Kylee Shook. First time resulting in an uncontested layup and now, failing to box out on a rebound. The Cardinal run is now up to 12-0 ...

They're letting A LOT of contact go right now ...

And now it's a 15-0 run ... 

Hunter finally stops the bleeding with a mid-range jumper. Louisville up 15-8 ...

First TV timeout: Lousville 15, State 8

The Cardinals are the aggressors right now ... State's having a hard time getting into its offense and has made just 3 of its first 15 field goal attempts and is being outrebounded 13-6. Wolfpack has been outscored 18-2 after getting off to that 6-1 start ...

End of the first quarter: Louisville 19, State 8

SECOND QUARTER

Cunane was very timid after picking up that early foul, but she goes right to the basket to start the second half and gets hammered ... with no call. But State gets the makeup call on the other end as Cunane tries to get defensive position. 

And now Louisville's Elizabeth Dixon picks up her second quick foul to send Cunane to the line for two shots, converting both to cut the deficit to 19-10 ... 

Jada Boyd has posted up Loiusville's Mykasa Robinson twice in a row now and scored easily. That's a matchup State can and should exploit more ...

Apparently Louisville has been saving up all its made baskets for tonight  ... Cardinals are 11 of their first 21 tonight ... 

Second quarter TV timeout: Loiusville 27, State 16

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Kayla Jones drives to the hoop for the Wolfpack

State either can't or isn't looking to get the ball into Cunane. And it's not shooting well from the perimeter. That's a recipe for disaster ... and it's headed that way, down 30-19

Crowd trying to will the Wolfpack back into this one after Kayla Jones scores from close range. And it gets even louder when Louisville's Dana Evans gets called for an offensive foul ...

Now Konig scores from close range, her first points of the game with just over a minute remaining in the half ...

State had some momentum going and had cut the lead down to seven, but a miss by Cunane and a 3-pointer in transition by Evans sends Louisville into halftime up 10 ...

Halftime: Loiusville 33, State 23

women v lville half box

THIRD QUARTER

If there's one thing the Wolfpack has going for it right now, it's that the third quarter has been its best this season. State is outscoring its opponents by a margin of 20.2 points during third quarters. It could use a big effort tonight to get back into this one ...

Cunane has missed her first two shots of the half and is 0 for 7 for the game. Louisville's Kylee Shook has the State star "shaken." ...

Kayla Jones has both Wolfpack buckets here in the second half and has 10. She's keeping State within hailing distance ... Louisville leads 40-29 ...

And Konig can't buy a bucket either. She's 2 for 7. Between them, The Wolfpack's two leading scorers have combined for just two field goals and nine points ...

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Aislinn Konig is having a tough night 

Refs aren't helping Cunane, either. She's been hammered on several occasions with no calls ...

Now third-leading scorer Kai Crutchfield finally gets her first points to get State back to within single digits. And another Jones basket makes it 42-35 Louisville. Timeout Cardinals  ...

And now Boyd is taking over again. When she thinks she's got a mismatch on her defender, she takes advantage of it. Twice in a row, she's posted up on Louisville's Elizabeth Dixon and both times she's scored by making nice moves in the lane. The second one included a foul ... she'll get the and-one with a chance to get State back to within five when play resumes ...

Third quarter TV timeout: Louisville 44, State 39

State outscores Loiusville 17-13 in the quarter and narrows the gap to six. Ten minutes left ...

End of 3: Cardinals 46, Wolfpack 40

FOURTH QUARTER

Cunane finally makes her first field goal of the night and it's a 3-pointer. Deficit down to just three ...

State is finally getting its act together on the glass. Wolfpack is now outrebounding Louisville 33-27 and it's making a difference. ...

After making just 1 of its first 13 3-point attempts, State has made two straight.

And Cunane finally gets a call. She'll go to the line with Wolfpack down 51-46. She makes one of two. Four-point game ...

Another foul on Shook. She's got three. Cunane back to the line ... but again she makes just one of two ...

Kylee Shook is listed at 6-foot-4, but she's at least an inch taller than Cunane, who's listed at 6-5 ...

Two straight Louisville baskets extends the lead back to 10 with 4:52 left. Wolfpack timeout. Comeback looks like it might have run out of gas ...

Now it's a 12-point deficit and the Wolfpack looks like it's out of gas ...

Wolfpack down nine, but taking its time and not fouling. I know they're not used to being in this situation, but ....

And now the Cardinals Elizabeth Balogun hits a 3-point dagger and you can put the wraps on this one ...

State's 8-game winning streak ends with a 66-59 loss to Louisville. Wolfpack and Cardinals now tied for the ACC lead at 11-2, but Louisville has the tiebreaker … 

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