Remember when NC State shocked Houston in the NCAA tournament final on a dunk by Lorenzo Charles in the final seconds in 1983? Morgan Bailey and BYU certainly do.
Bailey’s uncle, Thurl, scored a team-high 15 points in that game for the Wolfpack. She has worn his championship ring before. She has watched clips of that game on YouTube and watched a documentary of that team prior to the start of this season.
The Cougars are hoping that a similar thing happens Saturday when they face top-ranked UConn in the Lincoln Regional semifinals at Pinnacle Bank Arena. NC State’s win has been discussed during team meetings this week.
“For sure I look to him,’’ Bailey said. “He texted me yesterday and he said, `You have to compete and survive and move on.’ Before the season I watched a story about his Cinderella team and it’s very inspirational. I’m ready to follow in his footsteps if I can.’’
Said senior Kim Beeston “We’ve actually talked about it quite a bit. And it does take one. Anything can happen on one night. It’s just a matter of us going out there and playing our best and doing all that we can to kind of showcase our talents and why we’re here. I think we’ve kind of been underrated the whole season so it’s been really nice to come to such an incredible tournament and be able to be playing our best basketball. And I really do think that we’ve kind of peaked at the perfect time. So we’re excited.’’
The Cougars are only the third No. 12 seed to reach the Sweet 16 since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1994, joining San Francisco in 1996 and Kansas in 2013. The Dons lost to No. 1 UConn 72-44. The Jayhawks were defeated by No. 1 Notre Dame 93-63.
“The whole theme of this tournament for us has been to come in with no fear,’’ Bailey said. “UConn, you see the uniform and you know that they’re a powerhouse. We’ll have no fear and I have the most confidence ever in our team right now. If we play our game, I think right now we could be in a good position.’’