It wasn’t a pretty performance from NC State, but it counts just the same. Syracuse is an NCAA tournament team fighting for seeding, and on senior day the Orange weren’t going to make it easy on the Wolfpack.
NC State made just one three-pointer all afternoon, and that alone could be enough to lead to an upset loss, but Syracuse wasn’t much better in that respect, and NC State did enough in the margins elsewhere to bring this win home.
Pace and Efficiency
The third quarter was decisive for State—it was the only period where State hit more than half its shots, while the Orange were just 2-15 from the field, and that allowed the Pack to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 13-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
That cushion proved totally necessary to salvage this one, as NC State’s offense disappeared in the fourth quarter. Six of the Pack’s 14 turnovers came in the fourth, as Syracuse not only rallied but pushed ahead 58-55 with three minutes left. But NC State found its footing and scored the next seven, retaking the lead at 60-58 off an Elissa Cunane three-point play.
Jada Boyd had a huge game, and it was her hustle steal/rebound and score with 40 seconds left that put the Wolfpack up 62-58 and Orange behind the eight-ball. On a day where Kayla Jones was non-existent, Boyd’s effort was critical to the winning effort. She scored 16 points and grabbed 10 boards in 24 minutes off the bench.
That’s the depth advantage NC State has on display—this team is really good one-through-six, which makes it capable of enduring some off performances that other teams couldn’t. Kayla Jones will be fine; she may be the one stepping up the next time out. Today she didn’t have it, and Boyd was there to come through.
Elissa Cunane led the Pack with 17 points, including a 7-7 effort at the free throw line. Free throws made a huge difference for NC State today, and Raina Perez underscored the fact by hitting six in the last 30 seconds to shut the door.
NC State’s next game will be in the ACC tournament, at some point this Friday. The Wolfpack most likely be the No. 2 seed, barring an unlikely loss by Louisville at Notre Dame this afternoon.