the no. 4 NC State women’s basketball team has been good, great even, in third quarters all season, outscoring opponents by a combined 183 points. But Thursday night’s 92-61 shellacking of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Reynolds Coliseum was on another level.
The Wolfpack (24-3, 15-1 ACC) had the Old Barn rocking as it decimated the Deacs (13-13, 3-12 ACC) 37-18 in the third en route to the blowout victory. The Pack scored a combined 62 points in the middle two quarters of the game.
Head coach Wes Moore said he told the team to keep driving during his halftime team talk, because that was what was working for the Pack in the first half, but added that sometimes the secret is telling the team the opposite of what you want.
“At halftime we were 1 for 8 from 3, and we were doing really well scoring otherwise,” Moore said. “We were getting to the bucket, getting to the foul line. Ten free throws in the first half. I tell them ‘Hey, let’s keep attacking the basket. Don’t just rely on the 3.’ So what do they do? They go out and hit every 3 in sight. You’ve got to know what you’re working with and how to do this.”
Senior center Elissa Cunane, junior wing Jakia Brown-Turner and sophomore guard Diamond Johnson each scored eight in the quarter as the Pack shot 89% from the floor and an incredible 8 for 9 from beyond the arc. According to Brown-Turner, when the team is hitting shots like that, it is contagious.
“When we’re in a rhythm, we’re definitely going to knock the shot down,” Brown-Turner said. “It feels good with everyone being able to knock it down and get in rhythm.”
The first quarter was surprisingly competitive, with Wake Forest trailing by just one heading into the second, but that was the start of the end.
Junior center Camille Hobby went to work in the quarter, scoring the first six points of the second as the Pack jumped out to a 39-25 halftime lead. Hobby ended the game with 14 points and four rebounds.
The center said this was the first game her dad, the defensive line coach for the Bengals, had been able to end this season.
“He just gave me confidence,” Hobby said. “He’s worked really hard in the NFL coaching. I’ve worked hard, too. I just wanted to help my team win, but then also show up for my dad.”
While she was one of the lower-scoring members of the Pack, junior forward Jada Boyd contributed to the Pack’s dominance in a big way with some crowd-enegizing blocks.
Boyd, Hobby and Johnson have provided a consistent, and often deadly, spark off the bench for Moore and the Wolfpack this season.
“I left them in a good while in the second period because they were playing well,” Moore said. “Camille was finishing and scoring well. Jada Boyd was crashing and making plays, blocking shots and getting rebounds. Diamond was hitting shots. So yeah, when we’re doing that I always tell them ‘it’s not necessarily about you, but when the team is playing well while you’re in there, we are going to let it ride. If you want more minutes, that’s a good way to get it.’”
Ten different members of the Pack scored against the Demon Deacons, with five reaching double digits. Johnson led all players with 16 points, but Brown-Turner and Hobby weren’t far behind with 15 and 14, respectively. Cunane ended the game with 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
If there could be one nit-pick in the Pack’s performance, the Demon Deacons narrowly outrebounded the Pack, 35-34.
“I’m still disappointed with our rebounding,” Moore said. “We’ve got to get better. I just think championship teams rebound. We’ve got to raise that up. Of course they feel like ‘Oh, we’re hitting shots, coach. That’s why we don’t have offensive rebounds.’ But when you look at the ones we miss and what percentage we get, it’s not high enough. That’s an area we’ve got to fix here in the next couple weeks.”
The win over Wake Forest was NC State’s program-record 15th ACC win of the season. And it still has two games to go.
Next up for the Wolfpack is its final home game of the regular season, a Sunday matinee against Syracuse. Opening tip is set for 2 pm in Reynolds.
“We’re trying to get momentum going. The more we win, the more we’ll keep it going,” Brown-Turner said.