Raina Perez

Graduate guard Raina Perez dribbles the ball up the court against Gamecock guard Destanni Henderson during the Wolfpack's home game against the top ranked South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 in Reynolds Coliseum. Perez tied with Brown-Turner to have the most points on the night for the Wolfpack with 18 points. The Wolfpack lost 66-57 against the Gamecocks.

The No. 2 NC State women’s basketball team cruised to its first ACC win of the season, taking down the Pittsburgh Panthers 89-54 on Friday, Dec. 10. The Pack’s 15 3-pointers brushed up against the program single-game record of 16.

The Pack (9-1, 1-0 ACC) hit the ground running with a 22-10 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back. The Panthers (8-3, 0-1 ACC) showed some fight throughout the game, but simply could not keep up with NC State.

The Wolfpack made a point to control the game by beating Pitt on the boards. The Panthers entered the game as one of the best rebounding teams in the country, but NC State ended up winning the battle on the boards, outrebounding Pitt 51-37.

“I thought they did a pretty good job of getting in position early,” said head coach Wes Moore. “That's what you have to do, they’re so long and athletic. … A lot of it's just anticipating the shot and getting in that position early because, again, they are a great rebounding team.”

A big part of the Wolfpack’s success was its ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc early on. 10 of State’s 3-pointers came before the halftime break, with six of those occurring in the first quarter alone. A half-court buzzer beater by graduate guard Raina Perez capped off the first-quarter long-range barrage.

“I was pleased with the way we came out and started the game,” Moore said. “I thought we were focused. … A lot of people did some good things and it's good to get that first one under our belt.”

Perez and junior center Camille Hobby led the Pack in scoring with 15 points each, but several other players helped NC State along its path to victory. Sophomore guard Diamond Johnson was the third Wolfpack player to hit double digits with 10 points while senior center Elissa Cunane owned the glass with 12 rebounds to lead all players.

Even though State came up just short of the program record for 3-pointers in a game, Cunane picked up the slack in the record breaking department by setting a new program best for made free throws in a career.

“She's somebody I really trust,” Moore said. “Late in the game, a lot of times we'll do stuff to get the ball in her hands because we have that much confidence in her knocking the free throws down. That's a great honor for this program and all the unbelievable players that have come through it, that’s something to really be proud of.”

NC State returns to Reynolds Coliseum for a three-game homestand starting with a matchup with the St. Mary’s Gaels on Sunday, Dec. 12. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.