Home-court advantage takes on new meaning the COVID-19 era.
Top-ranked South Carolina learned that lesson the hard way when the No. 8 N.C. State women took advantage of playing in an empty arena to score a 54-46 upset on the Gamecocks’ home floor on Thursday.
The Wolfpack opened a 21-20 halftime lead and held on in a defensive struggle to take down the nation’s No. 1 program on the road. With the win, the Wolfpack improved to 3-17 in matchups with No. 1 teams.
Both teams struggled to score buckets for most of the game. But three 3-pointers down the stretch by Raina Perez, Jakia Brown-Turner and Kayla Jones took on extra value in the low-scoring game and proved to be the difference in propelling the Wolfpack to the upset.
Loss snaps 29-game win streak for South Carolina
It was the first loss for South Carolina since last November following a 32-1 2019-20 season that was cut short by the COVID-19 crisis. The loss snapped a 29-game win streak.
The lead bounced back and forth for most of a tight second half until N.C. State took a relatively large 48-44 lead with 1:50 remaining. They held that lead and the ball with 55 seconds remaining, seemingly well on their way to victory.
But South Carolina’s Zia Cooke picked Kai Crutchfield’s pocket for a steal and a layup to cut the Gamecocks deficit to two and put the pressure back on N.C. State.
Kayla Jones plays hero for Wolfpack
Jones responded on the other end with a no-hesitation 3-pointer from the top of the key to extend the Wolfpack lead to 53-46 and put the game out of reach with 27 seconds remaining.
Jones led all scorers with 16 points to go with 12 rebounds. She was the best shooter on a sloppy night, hitting 6-of-13 field goals and both of her 3-point attempts. N.C. State overcame a 29.4% shooting effort from the floor while holding South Carolina to 27% shooting.
Cooke and Laeticia Amihere led the way for South Carolina with 11 points each.
The Gamecocks will look to rebound in another top-25 matchup on Sunday against No. 23 Iowa State. The Wolfpack take on Coastal Carolina that same day.
More from Yahoo Sports: