Leslie’s career-best 31 points lead No. 9 NC State past BC
BOSTON (AP) — North Carolina State found out officially that its leading scorer was lost for the season two days before facing Boston College.
On Sunday, the ninth-ranked Wolfpack saw Kiara Leslie was ready to take on a bigger scoring role.
Leslie scored a career-high 31 points and N.C. State cruised to an 85-69 victory over BC, raising its record to 15-0 for the best start in school history.
“I just think we came out flowing all together,” Leslie said. “They were feeding me the ball when I was open, and I was knocking down open shots.”
The win surpassed the 1999-2000 squad that won its first 14 games under late Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow.
It was their first game playing without leading scorer Grace Hunter, who will be sidelined for the rest of the season with a right knee injury. The Wolfpack announced on their Twitter site just before tipoff she tore her ACL in a victory over Duke on Thursday.
“It’s really going to be tough — leading scorer, second leading rebounder, second in assists. We lost a great player,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “All you can do is get back to work. I’m proud of the way they rebounded, especially after a quick turnaround.”
Aislinn Konig added 16 points, and Erika Cassell and Kai Crutchfield each had 10 for the Wolfpack (2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). Leslie hit 13 of her 15 shots from the floor.
“She played an amazing game and it’s funny we talked about the fact; we knew she was going to have that kind of game and she was going to turn it up,” BC first-year coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “I just think her athleticism and poise were very good and we didn’t adjust to it.”
Emma Guy and Makayla Dickens each had 17 points for the Eagles (11-4, 0-2 ACC).
N.C. State shot 58.6 percent (17 of 29) from the field in the first half and took a 41-24 lead into intermission.
Relying on a swarming defense and patient half-court offense, N.C. State took charge early, leading by 14 points at the end of the first quarter.
Leslie’s 3-pointer from the right wing pushed the Wolfpack’s lead to 44-24 on their first possession of the second half.
N.C. State: The loss of Hunter likely means a challenge in depth and scoring. Sophomore guard Crutchfield made her first career start and played well early. Leslie certainly picked up the scoring loss, something she’ll need to continue as the season progresses.
Boston College: The Eagles came in averaging 80.5 points per game, but it’s going to be a lot harder for them to put up those numbers in ACC play.
Hunter injured her knee with just over a minute to play driving to the basket.
The redshirt junior who transferred from Charlotte averaged 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds. The school said surgery hadn’t yet been scheduled.
N.C. State went on a 14-2 spurt over the final 5:04 of the first quarter to go up by 14. Leslie had eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Leslie joked that some around campus are starting to notice N.C. State’s start this season.
“A lot of people were like: ‘I didn’t know you guys had started off this well,'” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
N.C. State: Hosts Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Boston College: At Wake Forest on Thursday night.