<
>

Jones leads Wolfpack past Wake Forest

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina State’s star was in foul trouble, and its shots were misfiring. But the Wolfpack played strong enough defense to escape with another win.

Kayla Jones had 15 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 9 N.C. State beat Wake Forest 59-45 on Sunday.

Jakia Brown-Turner added 11 points and Elissa Cunane had 10 for the Wolfpack (17-1, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who improved to 11-0 at home despite shooting a season-low 32% from the field.

“Momma said there’d be days like this,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “Pretty ugly. Days like this, you’d better play defense, and you’d better rebound. I’m proud of the effort we gave there to hold them to 45 points.”

N.C. State answered a 9-0 run by Wake Forest with an 15-2 spurt, taking a 48-37 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Cunane made two free throws to give N.C. State the lead for good at 37-35 and later added a 3-pointer as part of the run. She played just five minutes in the first half while picking up two fouls.

Ivana Raca had 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead Wake Forest (11-7, 4-3). The Demon Deacons shot 25% from the floor, including 4 of 16 from 3-point range.

Wake Forest rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the first half to take a 35-33 lead midway through the third quarter.

“Both teams were grinding it out,” Wake Forest coach Jen Hoover said. “Neither team was able to get into a flow in the game.”

BIG PICTURE

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were picked in the preseason to finish in last place in the ACC, but they have played much better than that. All three of Wake Forest’s losses in conference play have come to teams that were ranked in the Top 25 at the time of the game.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack’s response to their first loss of the season, a 66-60 setback at North Carolina on Jan. 9, has been impressive. N.C. State has won its three games since then, including blowouts against Notre Dame and No. 13 Florida State. The rematch against the Tar Heels is Jan. 26.

STRENGTH ON STRENGTH

Wake Forest and N.C. State are the ACC’s top two rebounding teams, with the Demon Deacons leading the league in offensive rebound percentage and the Wolfpack leading the conference in defensive rebound percentage. N.C. State finished with a slight edge, compiling a 49-45 margin on the glass, a 16-15 advantage on offensive rebounds and a 13-12 edge in second-chance points.

“It was a rough shooting night for us,” Brown-Turner said. But Coach was telling us that we needed to rebound and play harder than them.”

STAR WATCH

Cunane entered the game as the ACC’s leader in field goal percentage and had scored at least 20 points in four of N.C. State’s previous five games. But she missed all six of her 2-point attempts while shooting 1 of 7 overall. She made 7 of 8 free throws to reach double figures.

MORE SHOOTING WOES

N.C. State guard Kai Crutchfield is struggling to regain her rhythm as she recovers from a sprained thumb on her shooting hand. Crutchfield went scoreless against Wake Forest, missing all nine of her attempts before sitting out the final 16 minutes of the game. She made just 2 of 11 shots against Florida State and 1 of 8 in the loss to North Carolina, shooting 5 of 6 against Notre Dame in between.

“Today was just one of those days,” Moore said. “I’ve still got a lot of confidence in Kai.”

UP NEXT

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons, who have won their last five home games, host Florida State on Thursday night.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack play at last-place Pittsburgh, a team they have beaten four consecutive times, on Thursday night.