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The Shot: How Raina Perez Brought NC State to the Elite Eight

BRIDGEPORT, CT – MARCH 26: NC State Wolfpack guard Raina Perez (2) defended by Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Anaya Peoples (21) during the sweet sixteen of the Women’s Div I NCAA Basketball Championship between NC State Wolfpack and Notre Dame Fighting Irish on March 26, 2022, at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, CT. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Mabrey dancing away… and she’s stolen, picked the pocket, Perez, for the lead!!! NC State takes the lead! 64-63!”

This amazing call came with under 30 seconds to go, the 5th seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s basketball team led the 1 seed NC State Wolfpack 63-62, and were holding on to a lead by a thread, almost on their way to an Elite 8 appearance. Taking it upcourt, Notre Dame senior guard Dana Mabrey was fending off Wolfpack guard Raina Perez. As she tried to make a move to keep the ball away, Perez made a risky defensive move, swiping at the ball from the opposite direction.

To the entire crowd’s surprise, it was a success. Perez poked the ball forward, and took it up for the layup as the crowd (and announcers) shrieked in excitement. The Irish were forced to take a timeout right after, and just like that, Perez had changed the game completely.

Raina Perez, now a senior, kept her impressive college career alive with the clutch bucket, as part of a 7 point, 4 steal, and 2 rebound performance in 27 minutes of play. Perez has been on a tear all tournament long, having scored 15 and 16 against 9 seed Kansas State and 16 seed Longwood, respectively, despite only averaging 8.9 points on the season.

Perez and the Wolfpack look to keep their championship dreams alive as they head to the Elite Eight in a matchup versus the 2-seeded UConn Huskies, who are red-hot right now.

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