No. 10 N.C. State women rout Tenn.-Chattanooga 78-58
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — For North Carolina State coach Wes Moore, the No. 10 Wolfpack’s game at Tennessee-Chattanooga was a sweet homecoming.
Freshman Elissa Cunane scored 19 points and the Wolfpack started fast and cruised to a 78-58 victory Friday night in Moore’s return to the school where he coached from 1998 to 2013.
“It’s great to be back in Chattanooga,” Moore said. “I love this university, I love this city and I love the people most of all. I’ve been in here a lot of times when the visiting team went home with their tail between their legs, so I know how tough it is to get a win here.”
Cunane was 7 for 9 from the field to help the Wolfpack improve to 12-0, the second-best start in program history. Cunane is third on the team in scoring with 13 points per game coming into Friday’s contest despite not starting in any of the Wolfpack’s 12 games.
“I think it’s a role I have taken on as the season has gone on,” she said. “It’s just something I can do for my team. My coaches told me to impact, and that’s what I’m doing.”
N.C. State led 9-0 before the Mocs (4-9) got on the board with Brooke Burns’ 3-pointer.
“Effort-wise, I think we did the best we could,” Burns said. “But we have to make small adjustments like boxing out every single time. We give effort every single play, but mentally we have to do the detail things every single time.”
The Wolfpack used their size advantage to do a lot of damage inside with 44 points in the paint and outrebounding Chattanooga 45-23, including 17 offensive rebounds.
Grace Hunter added 17 points for N.C. State, and Kiara Leslie had 12 points.
“I think we did really good tonight,” Cunane said. “We executed plays. We had some lags a few times, but otherwise I think we did what we needed to do and what we talked about.”
Arianne Whitaker led Chattanooga with 13 points, and Rochelle Lee had 11, but the Mocs shot 38.2 percent from the field and committed 11 turnovers. Seven Chattanooga 3-pointers from six different players kept the game from being even more lopsided.
“I was not displeased with our effort,” Burrows said of her team, which has now lost seven straight games since beating Saint Louis on Nov. 24. “I felt like my girls came out with the right mindset, but putting the ball in the hole is our issue. We’re not scoring right out of the gate, and against a team like this you can’t do that.”
During his 15 years at Chattanooga, Moore’s teams went 358-113 and made nine NCAA Tournament appearances.
Chattanooga coach Katie Burrows played for Moore from 2000-04. Burrows later worked as an assistant coach at Chattanooga for Moore and Jim Foster before being taking over as head coach in May following Foster’s retirement and after Friday’s game had been scheduled.
“I don’t know if I would have (scheduled the game) if I had known she was going to be the head coach,” Moore said of his former player and assistant. “As much as I like Jim Foster, it’s a little bit tougher when it’s the first kid you recruited to UTC and was a great player for you and a great assistant for you. That’s a little bit tougher playing against that.”
This was the second meeting between the two teams, with both played in Chattanooga. N.C. State won the first meeting, 80-67 on Dec. 31, 1977.
NC State junior Aislinn Konig was 2 for 5 from 3-point range and has made a 3-pointer in 45 consecutive games dating to Nov. 15, 2017. Her streak is the second-longest in the nation behind Presley Hudson of Central Michigan, which also defeated Chattanooga this season.
Chattanooga was ranked No. 11 in the nation in made free throws entering Friday’s game and went 9-for-9 from the line against the Wolfpack.
North Carolina State: The win was the 900th for North Carolina State, and the 12-0 record continues the Wolfpack’s second-best start to a season.
Chattanooga: In addition to the loss to the No. 10 Wolfpack, three of the losses in seven-game skid have come against teams ranked in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 (South Dakota State, Central Michigan and Belmont).
North Carolina State: Hosts Davidson on Dec. 30.
Tennessee-Chattanooga: Vs. Middle Tennessee at Fordham Holiday Classic on Dec 29.