Following the cancellation against Radford due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests in the Radford program, NC State announced it would be taking on North Carolina Central this Sunday, Nov. 29.
NC State has appeared to pick up right where it left off last season. After finishing last season with an ACC Championship, the Pack started its season off with a win. The Wolfpack returned four starters, all of which played a large role in taking down North Florida in a 93-65 victory.
The returning starters weren’t the only ones whose presence was felt. Sophomore Jada Boyd finished second on the team in scoring with 15 points after getting the first start of her collegiate career. This game gave NC State some momentum and a chance to knock off some rust before taking on NC Central.
NC Central got off to a rough start last year, going 4-10 in nonconference play. However, the Eagles performed much better in conference play, going 9-7 and earning the fifth seed in the MEAC conference tournament. This was good enough for 13 wins, which set the record for NC Central as a D-I team.
In its first game of the tournament, NC Central squeezed by the four seed, NC A&T, with a two-point victory. This became the Eagles’ first trip to the semifinals of the MEAC Tournament. However, like many other teams, the Eagles’ season was left unfinished as their next game against Maryland Eastern Shore was canceled, in addition to the rest of the tournament.
NC Central will be without its leading scorer, rebounder and only player to start all 30 games for the Eagles a year ago. Paulina Afriye ranks second in scoring in school history in the D-I era. It will also be without starting point guard, Zaria Atkins, who graduated.
Despite missing some pieces, NC Central does have 10 players from a record-setting team returning as it hopes to make another deep run in the MEAC Tournament. The returners were enough to hold off Campbell in the Eagles’ season opener, as they won 70-65 in double overtime to start their season off with a win. NC Central’s second- and third-leading scorers from last season, senior Kieche White and sophomore Anissa Rivera, played a big role in the victory, combining for 36 points and 22 rebounds
The biggest questions for NC Central will be what kind of impact can be made by the Eagles newcomers and who will run the point. With the departure of the Eagles’ assists and points leader, there will be big holes in their offense to be filled this season. This was clear in the matchup against Campbell with the Eagles only tallying eight assists, five of which came from guards. If NC Central can find a true point guard, it has a good shot at another successful season, and if it can do it quickly, the Eagles could prove to be a tough matchup for the Wolfpack.
NC State and NC Central will tip off at 2 p.m. on Sunday inside Reynolds Coliseum. Watch the game on ACCNX and follow @TechSports on Twitter for live updates.