Is Elissa Cunane important to NC State’s fortunes? Yeah, a little bit. Cunane didn’t play in either of State’s first two games against Virginia Tech, but she came up big on Friday night, delivering a game-high 27 points.
Like most elite teams, the Wolfpack can win games in a variety of ways—tonight it leaned on its defense and its paint scoring. Cunane’s presence was especially pronounced with State connecting on just 4-22 threes.
Pace and Efficiency
With those perimeter struggles, Cunane was an essential component to State establishing a lead and then keeping Virginia Tech at arm’s length. Cunane was 10-13 inside the arc, and the Pack as a team shot 61% on twos.
The first quarter was a feeling-out period that was tightly contested and ended all square at 16, but in the second, Virginia Tech’s shot-making problems hit hard. The Hokies scored seven points in that quarter on 1-15 shooting from the field, which allowed NC State to establish a 10-point lead at the break.
Virginia Tech is generally an excellent shooting team, both inside and out, but that wasn’t apparent today because the Hokies were a little off their game, and NC State played great defense.
The Hokies won the third quarter by two points, but the fourth quarter proved anticlimactic—in a good way, I mean—as NC State maintained solid control of the lead, depriving Tech of a run of any sort.
State’s team defense was outstanding, particularly in the paint—Virginia Tech made just 41% of its twos and grabbed only 14% of its missed shots. That’s a real good way to compound things for a team that shot 5-21 from three.
NC State is on to the semifinals for the fourth straight season. The Wolfpack will face the winner of the late Friday game between No. 3 Georgia Tech and No. 11 Clemson. The semifinal round begins at noon on Saturday, with a game between No. 1 Louisville and No. 5 Syracuse. The Pack will be up around 2:30. Both games will air on the ACC Network.