Kiara Leslie Drives Left

Graduate guard Kiara Leslie drives toward the interior on Thursday, Jan. 3 in Reynolds Coliseum. Leslie led the team with two blocks while putting up stats in every major category. The Pack defeated Duke 63-51 to tie the best start in school history at 14-0.

The undefeated No. 8 NC State women’s basketball team will continue ACC play against Pittsburgh on Thursday in Reynolds Coliseum.

The Wolfpack (15-0, 2-0 ACC) is coming off a 16-point win against Boston College on Sunday and a 12-point win at home against Duke to start conference play. Pittsburgh (9-6, 0-1 ACC) lost its only conference game so far in blowout fashion to No. 1 Notre Dame 100-44.

Despite losing leading scorer redshirt junior guard Grace Hunter to a season-ending ACL injury in the Duke game, this NC State team can be dangerous and shouldn’t have much of a problem with the Panthers.

The biggest question mark for the Pack now will be who can step up while Hunter is absent for the rest of the year. Against Boston College, it was graduate guard Kiara Leslie who stepped up to score 31 points on 87 percent shooting in 34 minutes.

Behind Leslie was junior guard Aislinn Konig, who shot 4 for 7 from behind the arc and totaled 16 points. Sophomore guard Kai Crutchfield and junior forward Erika Cassell scored 10 points each.

With the injuries, depth could be a growing problem as it gets to the tougher parts of the conference schedule. NC State had 11 players find the court, but three played three minutes or less and just seven players scored against the Eagles. The bench will have to step up in a huge way against some of the better opponents it will face this year, like Notre Dame and No. 2 Louisville.

The Pack will use games against opponents like Pittsburgh to strengthen the impact of bench players for the future by slowly integrating them into the regular rotation. Tip-off against Pittsburgh is at 7 p.m.