NC State faced difficult circumstances in Blacksburg, forced to play without Diamond Johnson or Saniya Rivers. Aziaha James got her first start as a result and continued her stellar play from the UNC game, but the shorthanded Wolfpack was overmatched against the Hokies.
The game started to get away from State about halfway through the second quarter—Virginia Tech scored 16 points over the last five minutes to seize control and took a double-digit edge into the break after being down five early in the second quarter.
That lead ballooned to 20 in the third as NC State found few answers for Tech star center Elizabeth Kitley. Give State credit for fighting back to cut the lead to single digits in the fourth, but the ladies were not able to get all the way back into it.
It took VT a couple of minutes to go from up nine to up 17, and that was that. Kitley scored 24 points on 11-16 and with her leading the way, Tech shot an impressive 25-36 on twos.
State won the battle of the boards and only committed five turnovers, but the differential in shooting percentage was just way too much to overcome.
James set a new career-high with 20 points on 6-11 shooting and Mimi Collins had a nice day, but Jakia Brown-Turner and Jada Boyd combined to shoot 4-21. State still managed to play Tech even for a lot of this game, but that second quarter and Tech’s fast start to the third made a big difference.
NC State has to turn around and go to Duke next, and that one won’t be any easier, but the Pack does get to close out the regular season against Pitt in Reynolds. A 9-9 finish to the league slate looks pretty likely.
Whether or not they’ll be able to get healthy enough to do some damage in March, I don’t know. I’m not loving those odds right this minute.