The No. 4 NC State women’s basketball team won another top-20 matchup on Sunday, Jan. 16, beating Duke 84-60 inside Reynolds Coliseum. The game marked head coach Wes Moore’s 1,000th career game and his 764th win.
The Wolfpack (16-2, 7-0 ACC) remains undefeated in the ACC, with the No. 16 Blue Devils (11-4, 2-3 ACC) being the latest victims of the Pack’s recent rampage of six straight wins. With the win, NC State’s average margin of victory over ACC teams is 25 points.
“Just a great team win,” Moore said. “Only four turnovers. Scored a lot of points in the paint and did a pretty good job on the boards, as well. Great day. I’m proud of them, and I hope it’s something we can continue to build on.”
Junior center Elissa Cunane led the Wolfpack charge, putting up 23 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes of game time. Cunane did most of her damage in the third quarter, scoring 10 and outscoring the rest of the Wolfpack rotation combined.
The Pack did a solid job of shutting down Duke’s offensive attack with guard Celeste Taylor out, though Miela Goodchild stepped up in her absence, contributing 12 points. First-year guard Shayeann Day-Wilson continued her strong season by putting up 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. While that duo did damage on the offensive end, the two guards also combined for 10 turnovers, which sunk any chance of a Duke win. Duke finished the game with 17 turnovers to NC State’s four.
Outside of Cunane, the Wolfpack got contributions from just about everyone else on the roster. Graduate guard Raina Perez had all 10 of her points by halftime, with junior forward Jada Boyd joining Perez in double figures by the end of the game. Guards sophomore Diamond Johnson and freshman Aziaha James each had eight points while junior wing Jakia Brown-Turner and graduate forward Kayla Jones each had seven.
The Wolfpack displayed some stellar defense in the first quarter, holding Duke to just nine points in the period. In the first, the Blue Devils only hit 20% of their shots, and the Pack caused six turnovers.
“It’s huge so we don’t get down the rest of the game,” Cunane said of the first-quarter energy. “I think bringing energy in the first quarter kind of tells you how the game is going to be. If we don’t have energy, it’s gonna be hard fought. If we do have energy we’re usually getting after it on defense, and that’s powering our offense.”
The second quarter saw more of the same high-octane offense and defense from the Pack. NC State scored 23 points on 45% shooting in the quarter and held Duke to only 13 points. By the halfway point of the contest, NC State had forced 11 of Duke’s 17 total turnovers. Duke had more turnovers than field goals made as the Pack took a 42-22 lead into halftime.
As opposed to the first half, the start of the second half saw plenty of scoring from both sides. The Blue Devils narrowly outscored the Pack in the third quarter, with Duke showing off its 3-point shooting with four baskets from range. Cunane dominated inside the paint to match the Blue Devil onslaught, helping fight off any chance of a comeback.
“There’s a lot of factors, but I liked our energy,” Moore said. “We got to loose balls. We got to rebounds. When we do that, we’re a pretty good team. But again, we’ve got a tendency right now to think ‘OK, I can relax a little bit here.’ That drives me crazy. I want to keep driving, keep building, keep the momentum going. I guess the positive is that we haven’t peaked yet. We’ve still got a lot of ways to grow. But I did like our energy and that we got so many loose balls and got out and ran with them.”
The fourth quarter saw great shooting from both sides, but the Pack increased its lead against Duke to 24 points, ending the game 84-60. James came in at the end of the game, scoring all eight of her points in the quarter and showing impressive flashes as she’s done all season long.
The Wolfpack’s next game is a home matchup with the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals on Thursday, Jan. 20. The opening tip is set for 7:30 p.m. in Reynolds Coliseum.