Cassell leads unbeaten No. 8 Wolfpack past Virginia, 66-38
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The best start to a women’s basketball season in North Carolina State history rolled on with little resistance from Virginia.
Erika Cassell had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the eighth-ranked Wolfpack remained the only unbeaten Division I women’s team with a 66-38 victory over the Cavaliers on Sunday.
Kiara Leslie added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolfpack (17-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). Kai Crutchfield and Elissa Cunane each scored 11.
“We’re defending, we’re rebounding, we’re buying into the scout and we’re going out and executing and trying to take away other team’s strength and players’ strengths,” coach Wes Moore said. “Some fans might not enjoy it as much, but I just love seeing our team go out and defend the way we are.”
North Carolina State started the second quarter with a 15-3 run to open a 31-13 lead. Cassell, who was averaging 5.9 points coming into the day, had nine points during the key sequence.
The Wolfpack were steady the rest of the way.
“I think we only had three turnovers in the second half and that’s important for us because, especially on the road, turnovers can lead to buckets on the other end and energy and everybody gets into the game,” Moore said. “It’s real important to limit those and I thought we did a great job taking care of the basketball.”
Jocelyn Willoughby led Virginia with 15 points, but the Cavaliers shot just 23.1 percent (12 of 52). Dominique Toussaint, the team’s second-leading scorer, had a particularly rough day, finishing with seven points on 3-for-16 shooting with seven turnovers.
The Cavaliers (7-10, 1-3) came back from a 19-point deficit to beat Virginia Tech in their previous game, but trailed N.C. State by as many as 28 and never threatened to make the same charge. The Wolfpack turned Virginia’s 17 turnovers into 16 points.
“The majority of them were unforced and we have to take responsibility for that,” first-year Virginia coach Tina Thompson said.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack dominated inside. They finished with a 48-33 rebounding advantage, outscored the Cavaliers 36-10 in the paint and scored a third of its points, 22, off offensive rebounds.
“I thought that we defended well, but when you defend, you have to get the rebound,” Thompson said.
Virginia: The Cavaliers’ comeback victory against Virginia Tech marked the third time they rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to win, but more slow starts will make having success in the ACC very difficult.
North Carolina State returns home to face Virginia Tech next Sunday.
Virginia visits No. 2 Louisville on Thursday night.