Perhaps overlooked given all the deliciousness that was the Wolfpack dismantling of the "Boys in Baby Blue", the Wolfpack ladies picked up yet another impressive top 5 win in trouncing Colorado 78-60 in the final game of the Paradise Jam holiday tournament in the Virgin Islands. The game was not as close as the final score suggests, and yes that is a valid statement for an 18 point win vs the 3rd ranked team in the nation on a neutral court.
The Buffaloes feature a dynamic post player who averages over 18 points per game while grabbing lots of rebounds and drawing a plethora of fouls. None of that happened against the Pack, as River Baldwin apparently took the challenge personally. Colorado's center scored 5 points, got in foul trouble guarding Baldwin, and River scored a career high 26 points, had numerous blocked and altered shots, was perfect from the free throw line, and grabbed 8 rebounds. River was truly excellent all day. She was named the tournament MVP.
The Pack led by 23 early in the 2nd quarter - against the #3 team in the nation. The Buffaloes made a run late in the 2nd period, pulling to within 11, before the Pack pushed the lead back to 15 at the break. State came out with renewed intensity in the 3rd period, quickly pushing the lead back to 20 plus points. The lead ballooned to as much as 27 points before Wes Moore started pulling his leading players in the 4th quarter. This was as dominant a performance against a top 5 team as you are going to see - State was clearly the superior team in this game and this tournament.
Madison Hayes led the Pack in scoring in the prior 2 games and was again excellent in this one. The most distinguishing thing about this squad thus far this season is the passion and joy they play with. This group plays together, they celebrate taking charges (and they take a lot of charges) and there is a LOT of smiling on the court from these ladies during the game - there's an easiness about their game, a confidence and connection among the core group that makes them a joy to watch. Check out the lady Pack this week in the ACC - SEC Challenge. They should be ranked in the top 5 when the new rankings come out. One more thing - NC State is the only undefeated team in the ACC, and they've played the most games (7) of anyone in the conference to date.