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Senior center Elissa Cunane pushes her way past a Wofford Terrier player on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 in Reynolds Colesium. Cunane made 13 points and had 7 rebounds in the game. NC State won 90-57.

The No. 5 NC State women’s basketball team upset No. 2 Maryland in Nassau, Bahamas, blowing out the Terrapins 78-60.

NC State was able to ride a dominant first half to a convincing victory, getting a near-perfect performance from senior center Elissa Cunane and seeing four players end up with double-figure points. Cunane was almost flawless from the floor, going 8 for 9, ending Thanksgiving Day with 20 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.

“This young lady [went] 8 for 9 from the field, pretty unbelievable,” said head coach Wes Moore of Cunane. “And that's why we keep saying we need to get her more touches. And she went and got 10 boards. So pretty nice today, double-double. So great, great performance.”

Junior forward Jada Boyd returned in the matchup, her first game action this season. Boyd immediately made her presence felt, scoring five quick points in her first 42 seconds of playing time and extending the Pack’s lead from four to nine points, a lead that would continue to stretch for the remainder of the half.

In her last outing against ranked competition, sophomore guard Diamond Johnson struggled, shooting 2 for 12 against South Carolina, but she completely turned it around in this matchup. Johnson finished the game with 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four of the team’s seven steals. Johnson was fantastic for the Pack and between her and graduate guard Raina Perez, five of the Wolfpack’s six 3-pointers came from its top guards.

“I kind of say we've got six starters,” Moore said. “The nice thing about Diamond [Johnson], when she comes in, it gives us a spark and gives us a lot of energy, makes us go. … We were getting her back but she still had seven defensive boards. So great job there. When she came in that first half and was able to get to the rim some and then maybe get a dish or two, I thought it really gave us a jolt of energy as well and kind of gets you re-going. So love having her out there. And again, we've got a lot of talent, a lot of people that can do good things, and we just got to make sure we keep good balance and Diamond helps us do that.”

Perez and junior wing Jakia Brown-Turner were the other members of the Pack to end with 10 or more points. Perez ended the game with 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal while Brown-Turner came away with a double-double, 12 points and 11 rebounds.

NC State managed to hold Maryland to its lowest point total of the season, though Maryland was a bit shorthanded, being without guards Diamond Miller and Katie Benzan. Maryland’s previous season-low came against No. 6 Baylor, scoring 79. Being without Miller and Benzan is no small detail, the duo combined to score 30 points per game last season, but NC State took care of business against a team it needed to beat for its resume.

The first half couldn’t have been scripted better for the Wolfpack, as the team shot 61.1% from the floor and pulled into halftime with a 22-point lead. The Pack got scoring contributions from all over the place, with Johnson scoring 11 of her points by the end of the first half.

“It was huge,” Cunane said. “We're capable of being a very good shooting team and so to come out with that energy in a different arena and be able to knock down shots and just execute offensively, it was a huge energy boost for the first half.”

NC State outclassed Maryland in every way in the first half, holding the Terrapins to 11 of 30 from the floor and outrebounding them 22-10 by the end of the half. At the final buzzer, the Wolfpack held Maryland to just 34.3% from the field and 20.8% from deep for the game.

“I think honestly, we didn't do the best job defensively,” Cunane said. “Especially my man, she scored like 24 points, like coach Moore said. But I think defensively we knew who their key players were. And so we tried to try to lock in on them and help where we could and just play hard. I think us playing hard, we got some turnovers and were able to push it, get a rebound. So I think the energy, like coach Moore said, was a huge part of our defense.”

While the Pack was able to build enough of a cushion in the first half to negate any hope for a comeback for Maryland, the NC State offense did stall out late in the second. The Wolfpack shot just 1 of 11 in the last seven minutes of the game and didn’t score from the field in the last 3:26.

Regardless, NC State was able to come away with the ranked win, an upset that will likely send the Pack to the top three of the next AP Top 25 Poll. The win is great for NC State’s postseason resume, giving it a top-three victory. It’s even more impressive that the Wolfpack, a team that shoots 41.9% from 3 on the season, was able to win so handily while shooting just 28.6% from beyond the arc.

“I mean, obviously it’s paradise here, to be able to come down here and mix a little basketball and a little fun,” Moore said. “But we want to play [Baha Mar Hoops]. We know we've got a veteran team and we got some talent, and they want to play in the big games. And this was a big game today.”

Next up, the Pack has a shot to build on its resume as it takes on Washington State, a team that made it to the NCAA Tournament last year, in the Bahamas on Saturday, Nov. 27. Tip-off for that game is set for 6 p.m. After that, NC State travels to Indiana to take on the No. 4 Hoosiers on Thursday, Dec. 2.

“Who made the schedule?” Moore said. “I don't know. I'm not very smart, I guess. But I think Maryland's doing it as well; I think we all know we've got potential and this is the best way to test us early and expose our weaknesses and hopefully get better.”

Managing Editor

I'm Tristan Tucker, managing editor in the class of 2022 studying Communication Media and Statistics. I joined Technician in Fall 2018 and am a credentialed NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and SB Nation.