The NC State women’s basketball season officially kicks off its season on Wednesday, Nov. 6 when it takes on North Carolina A&T in Reynolds Coliseum.
The Wolfpack is coming off a season that saw it start 21-0, the best start to a season in team history, advance to the ACC Tournament semifinals, and make a run to its second NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance in a row.
Coming to town from nearby Greensboro is the Aggies, who finished the last regular season on a 16-game winning streak and lost in the MEAC Championship game. A&T returns with its top three leading scorers from last season, guards C’Coreia Foy and Cinia McCray, and center Alexus Lessears.
Foy and McCray are a competent veteran backcourt duo; Foy averaged 13.4 points per game last season and McCray averaged 12.3. Foy will be a menace defensively for the Wolfpack’s guards, as the 6-foot senior averaged 2.6 steals per game last season and will consistently hound the Pack’s primary ball-handlers.
Lessears is a big body down low who will look to discourage NC State’s slashers from attacking the basket. In addition to her 7.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, the 6-foot-3 Lessears averaged 1.3 blocks per game last year but elevated her game in conference play, rejecting 26 shots in 16 games.
NC A&T loves to jack up 3-pointers, but isn’t terribly efficient in doing so. The Aggies attempted over 16 treys per game last year but hit on only 26.6% of their attempts. Expect NC State head coach Wes Moore’s guards to try and bait the Aggies into taking ill-advised perimeter shots.
The Wolfpack will be able to trot out a rotation of players nearly 10 deep this season. Handling the point guard duties will likely be graduate guard Kaila Ealey who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Opposite her in the backcourt will be senior guard Aislinn Konig, a seasoned veteran who logged 36 minutes per game last season. Alongside Ealey and Konig along the perimeter will be five-star freshman wing Jakia Brown-Turner, who can play both guard positions and small forward, and junior sharpshooting guard Kai Crutchfield.
Sophomore center and preseason All-ACC selection Elissa Cunane will lead the charge down low. The 6-foot-5 Cunane has a two-inch height advantage on A&T’s Lessear and the Wolfpack will likely feed her early and often. Also down low with Cunane will be junior forward Kayla Jones, five-star freshman forward Jada Boyd and freshman forward Elle Sutphin.
Redshirt senior guard Grace Hunter and senior center Erika Cassell both had their seasons cut short last year due to knee injuries. Their statuses for Wednesday’s game are currently up in the air.
Wes Moore’s team likes to shoot 3-pointers, and against an A&T team that allowed nearly six per game in 2018-19, the Wolfpack will probably try to find its groove beyond the arc.
The NC State women’s basketball team has high expectations going into this season, and the much-anticipated roster will take the court at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.