March Madness: NC State stun Cameron Brink, Stanford with huge second half to reach Elite Eight


Aziaha James scored all but four of her 29 points in the second half to lift NC State to its second Elite Eight appearance in the last three seasons on Friday night.

Aziaha James scored all but four of her 29 points in the second half to lift NC State to its second Elite Eight appearance in the last three seasons on Friday night. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

It took a massive second half outing from Aziaha James, but NC State is headed to its second Elite Eight in the last three seasons.

The Wolfpack rallied out of a 10-point halftime deficit and stunned Cameron Brink and Stanford to grab a 77-67 win in their Sweet 16 matchup at the Moda Center in Portland on Friday afternoon. That officially sent them into their third Elite Eight in program history, and ended Brink’s career at Stanford in the process. James scored all but four of her 29 points in the second half, which nearly outscored Stanford as a unit in the final two quarters.

Stanford took a comfortable 10 point lead into halftime after a relatively slow first quarter, and the Cardinal seemed poised to run away with the game behind a dominant start from Brink — who had five blocks in the first 20 minutes.

But it was the Wolfpack who came out of the locker room firing. They opened the second half on a 16-6 burst, and then used a very quick 13-2 run over just a 2:30 span to suddenly take the lead. The Wolfpack held Stanford to just 10 points total in the third quarter, and Saniya Rivers sank a huge layup at the buzzer to end the period and give them an eight point advantage.

James then opened the fourth quarter with a huge 3-pointer from the logo, and Zoe Brooks followed it with a layup after a James steal. Just like that, the Wolfpack had broken open a double digit lead.

Brink, who picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter, then fouled out with 8:10 left in the game, too. She finished just shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds.

With Brink out of the way, James and the Wolfpack simply held on to grab the 10-point win.

KiKi Iriafen led the Cardinal with 26 points and 10 rebounds in the loss, and Hannah Jump finished with 13 points after shooting 5-of-11 from the field. They shot just 5-of-25 from behind the arc as a team, all but two of which belonged to Jump, and they committed 14 turnovers.

The Cardinal just barely reached the Sweet 16 and came dangerously close to being knocked out of the tournament on their home court for a second year in a row last week. They snuck past Iowa State in a thrilling overtime battle in the second round of the tournament behind a career-high 41 points from Iriafen. That extended Brinks’ career another week. She’ll now turn her attention to the WNBA Draft, where she’s largely expected to go No. 2 overall behind Iowa star Caitlin Clark.

James shot 8-of-14 from the field and had five assists and three rebounds to go with her 27 points in the win for NC State. Rivers added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Zoe Brooks finished with 12 points off the bench.

NC State fended off Tennessee late in the second round to reach the Sweet 16 after an easy win over No. 14 Chattanooga to open the tournament. The Wolfpack will now head to the Elite Eight, where they’ll take on either Gonzaga or top-seeded Texas in the Portland 4 region on Sunday. A win there would send NC State to its first Final Four appearance since 1998. The NC State men also reached the Elite Eight on Friday night, thanks to a 67-58 upset win over No. 2 Marquette in Dallas.

This post will be updated with more information shortly.



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