Cunane helps N.C. State women top Virginia, stay unbeaten
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Off to another fast start, North Carolina State is more focused on what lies ahead than on what it already has achieved.
Elissa Cunane had 26 points and 10 rebounds as the ninth-ranked Wolfpack beat Virginia 80-60 on Sunday.
Jakia Brown-Turner added 13 points and Grace Hunter scored 10 for N.C. State (14-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which matched the second-best start in program history.
N.C. State started 21-0 last season, becoming the final Division I team to lose a game. The Wolfpack entered Sunday as one of five remaining undefeated teams this season.
“We don’t talk about the streak,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “I don’t think I’ve mentioned it at all this year. We don’t talk about it. It’s the next game.”
N.C. State never trailed against Virginia and stretched its lead to 38-23 with a 13-2 run in the second quarter. Cunane made a pair of layups, including a three-point play, and assisted on a 3-pointer during the run.
The Wolfpack added a 16-0 spurt in the third quarter, scoring on seven of eight possessions to pull away. They finished with 24 assists on 28 field goals.
“I thought we did a really good job of sharing the basketball,” Moore said.
Jocelyn Willoughby scored 25 points to lead Virginia (5-9, 0-3). Dominique Toussaint had 15 points for the Cavaliers, who have lost four straight and six of seven.
Virginia: The Cavaliers are better than their record and statistics might indicate. Their schedule has been tough in the first half of the season. N.C. State was their fifth opponent currently ranked among the top 15.
“It’s tough,” Virginia coach Tina Thompson said. “But with each outing, we learn something. I absolutely believe that in order to be the best, you have to have the experience, and you have to beat the best. And you’ve got to play them.”
N.C. State: The Wolfpack bounced back after having to rally from a 14-point deficit to beat Virginia Tech on Thursday night. N.C. State opened the game with a 10-3 spurt thanks in part to two early baskets by Cunane. At 6-foot-5 with deft touch, she is a matchup nightmare who helps create open 3-pointers for teammates when she isn’t scoring.
Cunane was the focus of Virginia’s defense, drawing double-teams when she caught the ball in the post. Still, she posted her eighth double-double, including her sixth in the past eight games. Cunane made 8 of 11 field goal attempts, hit all 10 of her free throws and had back-to-back three-point plays during N.C. State’s third-quarter spurt.
“She’s tough, but we knew that coming into this game,” Thompson said. “What she did to us she does to everybody, so I’m not surprised at all.”
N.C. State senior guard Aislinn Konig made a 3-pointer from the left wing late in the first quarter to surpass 1,000 career points. Konig, who finished with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, became the 34th player in N.C. State history to score at least 1,000 points. The Canadian received a standing ovation at the start of the second quarter when the milestone was announced.
“Part of the reason I chose to come to N.C. State is the fans and the amazing support that this program gets from all of our season-ticket holders and anybody who decides to come to the games,” Konig said. “To be able to share that moment with them is really big. To be able to share it with my team is a very proud moment for me.”
Virginia: The Cavaliers host Duke, a team they beat last season for the first time since 2000, on Thursday night.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack play at rival North Carolina, whom they have defeated on the road in three of the last four seasons, on Thursday night.