The No. 12 NC State women’s basketball team captured the Rainbow Wahine Showdown crown Sunday night, defeating North Texas 76-65 at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii to complete a 3-0 Aloha State sweep.
Sophomore center Elissa Cunane scored 24 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, powering the Wolfpack (8-0) to a 52-33 edge on the boards over the Mean Green (3-5), dominating the paint all game long.
Cunane got the Pack started early, scoring NC State’s first six points of the game. A 3-pointer by junior guard Kai Crutchfield put the Wolfpack up 19-9 seven minutes into the first frame, and it looked like NC State was on its way to an easy win before the Mean Green closed out the quarter on a 6-0 run to stay just a couple buckets away from the lead.
Just like Cunane started the first quarter hot, she finished the second period equally efficient, scoring the Wolfpack’s final six points of the quarter as NC State took a closer-than-it-looked 36-27 edge into halftime.
A similar competitive second half followed, but despite its fair share of shooting struggles inside the 3-point line, NC State was able to keep North Texas at arm’s length. Every time the Mean Green appeared to be stringing together a run to muster up a comeback, the Wolfpack was there with a bucket or two in response.
NC State had a green light from deep all game, firing away from downtown 30 times, connecting on 11 attempts. Crutchfield (3-for-7) led the Wolfpack with three treys, and redshirt senior Grace Hunter (2-for-5), senior guard Aislinn Konig (2-for-8) and junior forward Kayla Jones (2-for-2) each sunk a pair of 3-pointers.
Jones and Crutchfield finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively, to round out the Pack’s double-digit scorers. While freshman wing Jakia Brown-Turner missed all seven of her shots from the floor, she made a strong peripheral impact, dishing out six assists and nabbing a steal and rejecting three shots, continuing an impressive freshman season.
NC State will return to action in a potential top-10 showdown Thursday night at 7 p.m. when it takes on No. 9 Maryland at Reynolds Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.