Big offense propels N.C. State in 108-70 romp
By Bob Sutton
RALEIGH — Elissa Cunane scored 17 points to lead six players in double figures for No. 8 North Carolina State in a 108-70 rout of North Carolina Central on Sunday.
The Wolfpack (2-0) hit shots at a sizzling 68.3-percent clip from the field in a final tune-up before a game at top-ranked South Carolina. Cunane was 6-for-6 from the floor.
Jakia Brown-Turner, Raina Perez and Kayla Jones all scored 15 points, Jada Boyd added 11 and Kai Crutchfield had 10.
“Playing against Central really helped us and showed us what we need to work on,” Brown-Turner said. “We just have to play like we play.”
Perez, a transfer from Cal State-Fullerton, was the only N.C. State player in double figures by halftime, but a 39-point third-quarter outburst for the Wolfpack had several others joining her.
“Just being more comfortable playing with them and getting used to them,” Perez said of her adjustments. “I think the second game just really opened up for me.”
Necole Hope’s 17 points led N.C. Central (1-1). Paris McBride and Anissa Rivera both scored 16 and Cherelle Washington had 11.
N.C. State led 15-5 less than 3½ minutes into the game, extending the margin to 32-11 by the end of the first quarter. The Wolfpack shot 18-for-31 from the field in the first half for a 46-28 lead.
“They pressed quite a bit and that allowed us to get out and get some numbers at times,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “It gave us some fast-break opportunities and some easy buckets.”
N.C. Central tried pressing defenses, with coach Trisha Stafford-Odom acknowledging there were risks and rewards with that.
“I know they’re outstanding in the transition game,” Stafford-Odom said. “We didn’t want to get in an up-and-down game.”
This matchup was added to schedules about 42 hours before tip-off after N.C. State’s slated game against Radford was called off because of coronavirus issues related to the Radford team.
“We’re just happy to play someone,” Jones said.
N.C. Central opened the season with Wednesday’s double-overtime victory at Campbell. It would have had more than a week layoff if Sunday’s game wasn’t added.
N.C. Central guard Kieche White, who had a team-high 21 points in the opener, was in the bench area but not in uniform for Sunday’s game because of a leg injury. Still, it was a beneficial experience for the Eagles.
“I definitely think we gained something out of it,” Stafford-Odom said. “(It should help) us understanding the pace of the game. … Definitely a lot of coachable moments.”
N.C. State won the only previous meeting with the Eagles by 50 points four years ago.
N.C. Central: The Eagles now have four consecutive in-state road games to begin the season. They’re trying to bolster their road success after winning only once on the road in non-conference play last season.
Overall, they had won three games in a row dating to last season, when after one victory in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament the rest of the season was cancelled.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack didn’t need to launch many shots from the perimeter, but again the team showed it has outside shooting threats.
This marked the first time in more than eight years that N.C. State had reached the 100-point mark in a game. That came with 104 points against Longwood on Nov. 15, 2012.
So this was the most points for the Wolfpack under Moore, who’s in his eighth season.
For N.C. Central, it was the most points the Eagles have ever scored in 11 all-time matchups against a Top 25 opponent.
“I would like to think we can be a consistent offensive threat,” Stafford-Odom aid.
THANKS FOR COMING
This game wasn’t put on the schedule until Friday night when N.C. State suddenly had an opening. Moore said it’s important to play whenever possible with the unknown nature of the season ahead.
“You don’t want to leave any games out there,” he said. “We’re very appreciative of Central on short notice of being able to make it happen.”
Last-minute opponent changes could come up several times, particularly in non-conference play.
“That’s the way it’s going to be. We have to try to get the games that we can,” Moore said. “When you have a pretty good team like we do, sometimes it’s harder to get people to play.”
N.C. Central: The Eagles head to High Point on Dec. 7.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack visits No. 1 South Carolina on Thursday night for one of the country’s first showdowns of the season.
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