The No. 5 NC State women’s basketball team held off the Kansas State Wildcats 90-69 in the final game of the Preseason WNIT on Friday, Nov. 19 in Reynolds Coliseum.
The two teams were tied at the end of the first quarter, but the Wolfpack (4-1) outscored the Wildcats (4-1) by 10 points in both the second and fourth quarters to pull away for the win.
“Great team win,” said head coach Wes Moore. “69 points is a little more than we would like to be giving up. I know we put up 90, but there’s gonna be a night when we don’t hit 10 out of 22 threes, so we gotta make sure we’re prepared to defend and rebound… A lot of people contributed.”
After the Wildcats hit a wild buzzer-beating 3 off the glass to tie the game at the end of the first quarter, the Pack went on a 9-0 run near the midway point of the second quarter and held a 10-point lead at halftime. Senior center Elissa Cunane and graduate forward Kayla Jones each had 10 points apiece at the half while graduate guard Raina Perez had nine, all of which came in the first quarter, as NC State shot 64% in the first 20 minutes.
“Everything I threw up was going in,” Perez said. “Just pushing the ball in transition and having [Cunane] to screen, knowing that the big post can’t really come out and guard me.”
The second half went much like the first as the Pack outscored the Wildcats by just one in the third quarter, then outscored the Wildcats by 10 again in the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Diamond Johnson led the way for the Pack in the second half with nine points, seven of which came in the fourth.
Cunane finished with a team-high 18 points, Johnson had 13 and both Perez and Jones finished with 12.
The Wildcats gave the Pack their best effort, something that the Pack will get from every team it plays being back-to-back ACC champions.
“They’re a tough team,” Perez said. “They’re big. We didn’t expect them to be as long, at least I didn’t expect them to be as long, especially when they were in the zone, it was a lot harder to find gaps.”
NC State ended up shooting 54.8% from the field while holding Kansas State to 48.2%, also winning the battle on the boards by a margin of 36-24. A key part of the Pack’s success offensively was hitting 10 of its 22 3-point attempts.
“I feel like my team is confident behind the 3-point line,” Jones said. “We did a good job working inside-out, and also driving and kicking. That’s really what we want to do. Instead of just settling on an iso 3, we like to feed off each other, and I feel like we did that today.”
This game wraps up what has been a five-game home stretch to start the regular season as the Pack gets ready for perhaps its toughest stretch of the season, a two-game trip to the Bahamas to take on No. 3 Maryland and Washington State, followed by a trip to No. 4 Indiana for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
“It’s gonna be tough,” Moore said. “It’s gonna be a big challenge, but they’d rather play the big games. They get excited about those, so it’s good for the players and good for the fans.”
NC State takes on No. 3 Maryland on Thursday, Nov. 25. Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. and the game will be broadcast on FloHoops.