No. 9 NC State breezes to 80-47 win over Wake Forest
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — After losing four key players to season-ending knee injuries, No. 9 N.C. State met a rare opponent that’s similarly banged up Thursday night and emerged with a routine, 80-46 victory over Wake Forest at Reynolds Coliseum behind 14 points and six assists by Aislinn Konig.
Kiara Leslie and Kayla Jones added 14 points apiece and Kai Crutchfield contributed 12 as the Wolfpack rushed out to a 47-20 halftime lead and never looked back.
It was N.C. State’s first win by a double-digit margin since a 66-38 win over Virginia on Jan. 13 as the Wolfpack (23-3, 10-3 ACC) has struggled to manage an increasingly depleted roster. N.C. State won its first 21 games and was the nation’s last remaining undefeated team, but had dropped three of four heading into Thursday’s game and has just nine healthy players.
“It’s a tough time of year to be adjusting and adapting,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “But we’re trying to do it the best we can.”
Wake Forest (10-16, 1-12) was led by Ivana Raca, who scored 15 points, but played its ninth straight game without injured team scoring leader Elisa Penna and used just seven players. The Deacons also have been without Ariel Stephenson, one of the 2017-18 team scoring leaders, for the entire season because of a shoulder injury.
N.C. State held Wake Forest to 27.4 percent shooting from the field.
“I’m just disappointed, you know I didn’t think we came out and really executed our game plan,” said Wake Forest coach Jen Hoover. “I thought we had a good game plan coming in, and you’ve got to give them credit, because they came out and they were on fire and were wanting to get back in the winning column after a loss to Notre Dame.”
After losing by 23 to Notre Dame on Monday, the Wolfpack came out determined to get out in transition early against Wake Forest. Crutchfield made a fast-break layup and a jumper from the free throw line to help N.C. State score 12 of the first 14 points and take control of the game early. Meanwhile, the Deacons had as many turnovers as points in the first quarter, which ended with the Wolfpack ahead 27-7.
“I feel like we are still continuing to get back to where we were when we were 21-0,” Crutchfield said. “Of course, the injuries shook us up a little bit, but as we get back on track I feel like it’s going to be good, especially going into these last few ACC games.”
Wake Forest: This has been a difficult stretch for the Deacons, whose six straight losses are all by a margin of at least nine points. Upcoming home games against Duke and Pittsburgh, which both are in the lower part of the ACC standings along with Wake Forest, provide chances to break the skid.
N.C. State: The win takes some of the sting out of the loss to Notre Dame in the Wolfpack’s previous outing. But visits to North Carolina – which defeated N.C. State on Feb. 3 – and No. 4 Louisville will provide bigger challenges to this injury-riddled group.
Konig shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range and scored all of her points in the first half. She has made at least three 3-pointers in each of her last five games and entered the night leading the ACC with an average of 3.0 3-pointers per game for the season.
N.C. State freshman forward Esra McGoldrick scored a career-high 10 points, nearly matching the total of 11 points she has scored over the entire season…Alex Sharp’s 10 points for Wake Forest gave her back-to-back games scoring in double figures since returning from a 10-game absence due to a broken hand. She scored 17 on Sunday at Syracuse…The Wolfpack’s 50.9-percent shooting effort from the field marked its first time shooting 50 percent or higher since Jan. 3 at Boston College. N.C. State had shot below 50 percent in 10 straight games.
Wake Forest: Plays host to Duke on Sunday.
N.C. State: Visits North Carolina on Sunday.