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N.C. State's Erb Edges Duke's VanGorp for League Player of the Year

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — After losing four seniors from a team that won 25 games and reached the Final Four in 1998, North Carolina State's women couldn't count on the same results this season.

But they could count on Summer Erb, who was chosen Wednesday as The Associated Press player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Erb received 28 of a possible 56 votes from the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association. Duke center Michele VanGorp finished second in the voting with 22 votes. Virginia's DeMya Walker earned four votes and Clemson's Itoro Umoh garnered two.

Erb, a 6-foot-6 junior center, led the ACC in scoring (21.2 points per game) and rebounding (9.4 rpg) and was the only player in the league to score in double figures in every game.

Erb reached 20 points 13 times this season and topped 30 points four times. She opened the regular season with a 33-point, 16-rebound effort against Richmond and finished it with a 34-point, 13-rebound night against Wake Forest.

She accomplished all that while playing for a Wolfpack team that went 16-11 overall and wound up fifth in the ACC, its worst finish since 1994. N.C. State swept North Carolina for the first time since 1991 but went a combined 0-7 against Clemson, Duke and Virginia.

``I worked hard in the offseason to improve my strength and conditioning and it's nice to see it pay off,'' said Erb, who had not started a game at the collegiate level before this year. ``To be considered one of the best in the league, it's a good feeling.''

Erb's statistical improvement from last season was remarkable. She boosted her scoring average by 13 points and her rebounding average by five boards per game.

``From day one, you could tell Summer had so much more confidence and was mentally and physically ready for this year,'' said N.C. State coach Kay Yow, who picked up her 500th career win at the school this season. ``To come into a league like the ACC and not only hold her own in her first season as a starter but rise above is outstanding.''

Erb scored 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the Wolfpack's 52-51 loss to Clemson in last week's ACC tournament. She and her teammates must now wait to see if they'll even reach the tournament they made a Cinderella run through last season.

``It's always disappointing to lose a game, especially in the tournament,'' said Erb. ``Winning that game would've helped our chances for an NCAA bid. Hopefully, the committee will think we're one of the best 64 teams in the country.''