It was a scene right out of the Hollywood classic "Hoosiers."
Only instead of measuring the dimensions of historic Hinkle Field House as his fictional counterpart Normal Dale did, NC State women's basketball coach Wes Moore simply pointed up to the rafters of another venerable old building -- Reynolds Coliseum -- before taking his team to Greensboro for the ACC tournament.
"Coach Moore, before we came here, pointed up to those banners and said 'Hey, it's been a long time,'" senior guard Aislinn Konig said. "We want to be a part of that. That's where we need to end up."
Sunday, Konig and her Wolfpack teammates answered their coach's challenge and for the first time in 29 years, earned a new conference championship banner to hang in their home arena.
They did it with a gritty 71-66 win against Florida State that saw State rally from five down in the final 4 1/2 minutes, closing out the game on a title-clinching 13-3 run.
Konig earned tournament MVP honors by scoring 18 points and hitting three of her four three-pointers in the decisive second half. All-ACC center Elissa Cunane also scored 18 points, to go along with nine rebounds and two key steals during the late surge while a pair of freshmen -- Jakia Brown-Turner and Jada Boyd -- helped provide the spark that carried the Wolfpack to its first ACC championship since 1991.
It was also State's first league title of any kind in basketball, football or baseball since 1992, an accomplishment that set off a wild celebration among both the players and coaches on the court and the predominantly red-clad crowd of 7,324 in the stands.
"There's no words to describe the type of feeling that the whole team has right now," said Konig. "This was a family that came together and really bought in and played together throughout this whole tournament and through the ups and downs through the season.
"Being able to celebrate that with them and the coaching staff and the amazing fans who filled up this arena for us is super special. To be part of this legacy of NC State that has had so many contributors from before us and will guarantee to have after us, it's amazing to be part of that."
The Wolfpack (28-4) came into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, but had its share of questions after going through a mid-February slump that saw it lose three out of four games.
All at home.
But State seemed to regain its confidence with a pair of impressive wins to close out the regular season, including one at Virginia in which it set an NCAA record by making its first 13 three-point attempts.
Once it arrived in Greensboro, everything seemed to break just right for the Wolfpack, even some things that were out of its control. That's something that doesn't often happen for State teams in big situations.
This time, though, it did.
First third-seeded Duke was upset by Boston College in the quarterfinals, eliminating an opponent that had beaten the Wolfpack only two weeks earlier. Then, top-seeded Louisville was taken out in the semifinals by No. 4 Florida State.
State did its part, too, by building a big enough lead against BC that Moore was able to rest Cunane and fellow starter Kayla Jones for most of the second half, keeping them fresh for Sunday's final.
And the extra energy made a difference, as the Wolfpack had enough left in the tank at the end to pull away for the history-making victory.
"A few weeks ago they thought we had peaked in January," Moore said. "I feel like right now we got a good mojo about the team. We've got a lot of people that are playing and contributing and I think that helps to keep everybody engaged. And winning doesn't hurt.
"We saw the ball go through the net a little bit against Syracuse and Virginia the last two games and I think that helped us now to get our confidence going. So I think we're playing with confidence and I think we're having fun."
Sunday's final was more of a grind than fun for the first 35 minutes, with the Wolfpack taking an early shot and falling behind after the first quarter for the third straight tournament game.
With Konig misfiring on five of her first six shots and Cunane having trouble on the low post with the Seminoles' physical interior defense, State trailed by four heading into the final minute of the half.
That's when Cunane made a series of plays that completely changed the momentum heading into the break.
It started with the slender 6-foot-5 sophomore getting bumped to the floor by FSU's beefier River Baldwin as she made a baseline jumper. But instead of getting the basket and a free throw, Cunane was called for going out of bounds.
Unhappy with the call, Cunane got her revenge on the other end of the floor by blocking Baldwin's shot. The Wolfpack star then stepped outside and hit the first of her two three-pointers in the game to cut the halftime deficit to just one.
"I think I got my momentum going and I was trying to focus on the next play," Cunane said. "I had to keep playing through it."
She did just that, scoring 12 of her 18 points in the final two periods. Konig also heated up while the two freshmen also contributed big baskets at key times. Brown-Turner finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Boyd, the star of Saturday's semifinal win against BC, added 10 points and a pair of blocked shots.
But in spite of all that, the Seminoles (24-8) wouldn't let the Wolfpack pull away.
And with a 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter, it appeared as though the Seminoles were in a position to steal the game and continue State's long history of championship futility.
But Cunane and Konig weren't about to let that happen.
Cunane got the final push started with a layup and a steal that eventually led to Konig's tying three-pointer from the right corner that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Sensing the Wolfpack's confidence rising, FSU coach Sue Semrau called timeout in hopes of calming things down.
Instead, State turned up the defensive pressure, got a big basket from Brown-Turner and made 8 of 12 free throws down the stretch for a conclusion that helped restore a legacy started by the late Kay Yow and fulfuill the childhood wish of a newly crowned champion.
"I remember as a kid when the champions would be crowned I would see the balloons and the confetti growing up, and I said mom, 'I want a balloon,'" said Cunane, a Greensboro native who attended several ACC tournaments as a youngster. "She said no, you can't get one. So I went down today and grabbed as many as I could! I have one in my locker. It's amazing to be on this stage and surrounded by all my best friends. It means a lot to us."