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NC State beats Virginia Tech, 68-55, advances to ACC tournament semifinals

NCAA Womens Basketball: NC State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Four Factors

... NC State VT
... NC State VT
eFG% 48.3 39.5
TO% 13.4 14.8
OR% 22.2 13.5
FTR 32.8 17.5

Pace and Efficiency

VT 55 67 82.1 101.5
NC State 68 67 101.5 82.1

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.