- Associated Press - Saturday, March 22, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Once again, North Carolina State is headed home after the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament.

Lexi Eaton scored 25 points, Jennifer Hamson finished one block shy of a triple-double and 12th seeded BYU upset the No. 5 Wolfpack 72-57 in the first round of the Lincoln regional on Saturday.

N.C. State (25-8) lost in the first round for the fourth time in its last five tournament appearances, and hasn’t won a tournament game since 2007.

“It’s going to hurt for a while,” first-year Wolfpack coach Wes Moore said. “It’s a tough way to end. Maybe in a few weeks we’ll be able to look back at the big picture and remember all the success.”

NC State trailed by seven at halftime and never could take the lead in the second half. The Wolfpack shot a season-worst 27.4 percent from the field in its second-lowest scoring output of the season.

“I can’t really describe it,” center Markeisha Gatling said tearfully. “It just hurts.”

Gatling, a first-team All-ACC selection, finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Miah Spencer led the team with 16 points and Len’nique Brown had 10 points and five assists.

Hamson, the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, scored 12 points - all in the second half - and tied her career-highs with 19 rebounds and nine blocks.

Led by the 6-foot-7 senior center, the Cougars (27-6) outrebounded N.C. State 52-37 and blocked 15 shots.

Eaton added eight rebounds and four assists, Morgan Bradley added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Kylie Maeda scored 14 points for BYU as well

Hamson creates some situations maybe you’re not used to seeing,” Moore said. “If you double her they got a lot of kids around her who can knock down shots, which we found out.”

The Cougars won for the 11th time in their last 12 games and picked up their first tournament win since 2006. They will face fourth-seeded Nebraska in the second round on Monday at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA’s campus.

“They believed in themselves,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “This is how we won 27 games - defend, pound it inside, take what the defense gives us and everyone helping. I’m glad they came and played the way they played all year.”

Hamson entered averaging four blocks per game, second-best in the nation. She surpassed that mark by halftime, swatting away five shots in the opening half.

Those blocks, plus 17 points from Eaton, helped BYU get out to 33-26 halftime lead. The Cougars finished the half on an 11-2 run, with Eaton accounting for seven of those points.

N.C. State dug itself an early hole by shooting just 23.5 percent (8 of 34) from the floor in the first half, including 2 of 11 from three-point range.

The Wolfpack had a promising start to the second half, cutting the deficit to five at 38-33 with 16:41 to go.

BYU quickly squashed that momentum though, reeling off a 24-8 run to take a commanding 62-41 lead with 5:30 remaining. Four different players scored in the Cougars’ spurt, topped by eight points apiece from Hamson and Maeda.

“We all came ready to play and were more aggressive,” Eaton said. “We also knew they didn’t have (tournament) experience so we knew we would have a leg up on them.”

Spencer tried to engineer a comeback, recording five points and an assist in a 10-2 NC State run, but it was too little too late.

“You got to give BYU a lot of credit,” Moore said. “They shoot the ball extremely well and had a lot of toughness too.”

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