NC State hosted No. 4 Notre Dame in its final regular season contest and the last game to be played in Reynolds prior to upcoming renovations that will shut down the fabled arena until August, 2016. The Wolfpack battled throughout but came up short against the Fighting Irish, 67-60, and will enter the ACC Tournament as a 10-seed after finishing 16-13 overall, 7-9 in the conference.
It was what happened in the waning seconds of the game with the outcome no longer in doubt that provided one of the more heartfelt moments the Old Barn has seen in its six decades of existence.
With the outcome essentially decided, NC State head coach Wes Moore sent Barrett into the game with 24 seconds remaining and the Wolfpack trailing by 10 points.
Barrett hobbled on the court, camped out behind the three-point arc and, after immediately receiving a pass from Dominique Wilson, drilled a long range jumper for what would be not only the final shot of her college career but also the last one at Reynolds Coliseum in its current state. There were hugs and even some tears afterwards as she was then removed from the game following her three-point basket.
“That definitely meant a lot to me,” Barrett said afterwards. “That summed up my season. The season itself, my teammates—what they meant to me—after I made that shot and how they made me feel, it was just awesome. It was amazing.”
A starter for 77 of her 113 games prior to Sunday (including 76 of her last 79), Barrett is one of three players on the team that sustained season ending injuries this season. With her torn ACL coming in December, it gave the senior—who is slated to graduate in May with a degree in sport management—not only time to contemplate her future, but also to prepare herself for her final special moment.
In order to get back into the game, Barrett had to break with protocol for ACL tears.
“Honestly, I am not supposed to do anything,” Barrett confided. “It is just in me. I want to get better regardless of what it is I am going through so I would be at practice just doing what I could and my trainer didn’t like it. I gave her a hard time this whole week because I was practicing trying to get shot-ready for that. I just gave her a hard time with all that but it worked out.”
“I definitely, since my injury, have been looking forward to the future,” Barrett added. [I am] going to grad school, getting my master’s and getting into coaching."
Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin is unique in that she has played in Reynolds Coliseum both as a member of the home team and a visitor. As a freshman, Brown-Hoskin came off the bench for USC to score eight points and pull down four rebounds as the Trojans defeated the Wolfpack.
After transferring to NC State and sitting out the 2011-12 campaign, she was Barrett’s teammate for three years and the backcourt duo started all 33 games together for the Pack last season. With her teammate getting hurt after only 12 contests in her final year of eligibility, Brown-Hoskin was thrilled to see her make a successful curtain call Saturday.
“It has been, I know, a tough season for her having only played 12 games,” Brown-Hoskin said. “It is hard. I don’t know what she is going through because I have never had a torn ACL and I have never had to sit out because of an injury. It was great to see her shoot her last shot in the gym before [renovations begins].”
While her playing career has ended, Barrett has plans to both continue her academic endeavors and also hopes to remain active in the NC State program. She feels there will be more magical moments in the future as the women’s basketball program enters a new era with a massively reshaped arena.
“I think the future is going to be bright with the renovations,” Barrett said. “That will definitely attract more recruits. I love Coach Moore and the coaching staff so I definitely plan on [staying involved]. Coach Moore is definitely an awesome person. I think he is the best coach I have had since I have been playing basketball, personality-wise. He is [also] a great coach on the court.”
Moore also has a soft spot for Barrett. However, after the veteran coach came to NC State from UT-Chattanooga prior to last season the relationship between the pair got off to a rocky start.
“KB loves the game,” Moore said. “She works extremely hard at it. It is kind of funny; one of my first things with her was not real good. We were going to do summer workouts and she was, I guess, questioning what we were doing because it was something different. So we exchanged some pretty heated words in one of our first encounters... now KB is one of my favorites.
“She has got a great attitude, a smile on her face and comes to work every day. We lost a lot with her. She was leading the team in offensive rebounds from the guard position when she got hurt. She was 24-for-24 from the foul line when she got hurt. She always guarded the other team’s best perimeter scorer, so we lost a lot, not to mention the leadership. It has been tough.
When Barrett suffered what was thought to be a season-ending injury prior to the holiday break, Moore immediately began plotting a way to give her a fitting send-off. Against Notre Dame, the chance finally game for the head coach at one of the best possible moments.
“I told her in shoot-around if she left it short she was going to run,” Moore quipped. “That would have been interesting."
“I had been telling her for a few weeks that I was going to try to get her in if an opportunity presented itself—try to get her a shot,” Moore said. “She has been taking a few shots. It was one of those things where you knew the game had slipped away and sometimes you got to go for it. I thought that was a special moment. I am glad it worked out.”
NC State clinched a winning season with its upset win over No. 10 Duke in Reynolds one week prior to the game against Notre Dame. The Wolfpack is set to face Virginia Tech on Wednesday and it is likely State will play in the WNIT after the conference tournament concludes.
Barrett plans on being there until the end for her teammates but she also cherishes the work she put in to add one final act to her playing career.
“I worked hard to get to get to that shot, Barrett said. “I feel like I deserved it after everything I went through.”