The No. 2 NC State women’s basketball team overcame another sloppy start to beat Elon 78-46 on Sunday, Dec. 5 in Reynolds Coliseum.
For the second game in a row, Wolfpack (8-1) started poorly, committing eight first-half turnovers, but the team’s talent helped it pull away across the second and third quarters to beat the Phoenix (5-2) handily in the end.
“Second half, I thought our bench was phenomenal,” said head coach Wes Moore. “Obviously, 50 points from your bench, and I thought they really did a nice job too with the scout knowing what was going on. That's not always the case sometimes when you go to start subbing, but again, I thought they played extremely well. So it's good to have that kind of depth and also to be able to get the young players that experience today. So it was good.”
Turnovers and boxing out proved to be a consistent issue for the Wolfpack throughout the game as it ended with 16 turnovers and allowed Elon to bring in 13 offensive rebounds for 12 second-chance points.
“First half, a little disappointed in a few things,” Moore said. “I thought we gave up way too many offensive rebounds. Think they really had gone and got nine offensive rebounds that led to nine points in the first half. [We] turned it over too much. We're a little sloppy with the ball, a little careless with the ball. We got to clean things up.”
Much like the team’s win over Indiana, senior center Elissa Cunane got herself into early foul trouble with two in the first quarter. With Cunane on the bench for large stretches, junior center Camille Hobby made the most of her extended minutes and racked up 11 points.
“We're fortunate to have two players of that caliber at that spot and [freshman center Sophie Hart is] coming on, she's gonna need time but she's got a lot of potential as well,” Moore said. “Camille's just so skilled. She's worked extremely hard to get where she's at. Hated it for Elissa. ... What's really tough is when she gets some in the back court, you know? She's got to learn to let it go. Let the play go and move on and get back on defense. Instead of you know, 80 feet away from the bucket, picking up fouls.”
The Phoenix led 9-8 with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter, but the Pack ended the frame on an 8-0 run and from there steadily began to run away with the game. Sophomore guard Diamond Johnson led the way with two 3s in that 8-0 run and ended the game with nine points.
Hobby, along with sophomore guard Madison Hayes, helped the Wolfpack begin to pull away in the second quarter as it built a 36-20 halftime lead. The duo combined for Wolfpack’s first 10 points of the quarter to continue what Johnson began at the end of the first quarter.
The third quarter was where the Wolfpack really put the game to bed, outscoring Elon 25-16 in the frame. Junior forward Jada Boyd led the way with eight points in the quarter and ended with a game-high 17 in her first start of the season.
“She's a great player and we've been kind of easing her into it because she missed so much time,” Moore said. “But today with [junior wing Jakia Brown-Turner] out, decided to go with a big lineup and I thought she responded really well.”
Boyd was pleased with her performance after the game, but said she could have been better on the boards.
After the game, Moore said Brown-Turner has been playing through an injury on her shooting hand and will get an MRI tomorrow.
Freshman guard Aziaha James was the third and final member of the Wolfpack to reach double-digit scoring, ending the game with 11. While she didn’t reach that double-digit point mark, Hayes had another solid all-around game with nine points, six rebounds and four assists.
While the Wolfpack has been slow out of the gate in its last few games, it's proven it can still win when not performing at its best.
“I think that having games like this in the beginning of the season, before ACC play, is really important,” Hobby said. “And I think we're only going to get better.”
Now the Wolfpack will hit the road once again as it begins ACC play at Pitt. The game is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10.