Cunane, balance lead No. 4 NC State past Virginia, 66-42
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — North Carolina State coach Wes Moore’s primary emotion seemed to be relief.
Elissa Cunane had 10 points and 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action and the No. 4 Wolfpack stretched its winning streak against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents to 14 with a 66-43 victory over Virginia on Thursday night.
The Wolfpack (15-2, 6-0) trailed 15-6 after missing 12 consecutive shots during a 13-0 run by Virginia in the opening period, but used a 20-1 run to take command and led 29-20 at halftime.
“We’ve still got a lot of things we’ve got to clean up and get better at, but I’m glad to get a road win and get out of here,” Moore said.
“We’ve just got to understand night in and night out that we’ve got to bring the energy and bring the urgency,” Moore said. “… If we don’t clean some of this stuff up — a close game, maybe an off-shooting night, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Amandine Toi scored 14 to lead Virginia (3-10, 0-3), which lost its fourth in a row. The Cavaliers led 15-11 after the first period but faded quickly thereafter. Taylor Valladay was Virginia’s second-leading scorer with just seven.
“We had a lull in that second quarter that dug a little hole for us and from that point on it was a little tough for us to get out of it,” coach Tina Thompson said.
The Wolfpack outscored Virginia 18-5 in the second period and 18-7 in the third.
“When they are comfortable and allowed to do the things that they do well, it’s going to be hard to stop them,” Thompson said.
N.C. State also got nine points from Aziaha James and eight from three others as 12 players scored and 10 played at least 10 minutes.
“Aziaha has played extremely well when she’s had opportunities and obviously she did that again tonight. I’ve got a lot of confidence in her,” Moore said.
N.C. State ranks second nationally with a .481 shooting percentage and came up far short of that, making 24 of 59 (.407), but outscored the Cavaliers 36-12 in the middle two periods to lead 47-27 entering the fourth. That also allowed Moore to substitute liberally for the game’s final 10 minutes.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack made 50% of their field goal tries (29-58) in their 82-55 victory against the Cavaliers in Raleigh, North Carolina on Dec. 19. They came up far short of their 80.3-point average (13th nationally) in the rematch.
Virginia: The Cavaliers were playing at home for the first time since a 69-56 loss to American on Dec. 7. They’d had one game canceled and then three straight postponed while observing ACC COVID protocols before a 67-31 road loss at No. 15 Georgia Tech on Sunday.
“Any time you’re in the middle of a season and you have to take weeks off — before our Georgia Tech game, the last game that we played was Dec. 19 and we had three practices, two practices as a full team and one practice with the majority of the team, it’s tough,” Thompson said.
N.C. State: Hosts No. 16 Duke on Sunday.
Virginia: Hosts Syracuse on Sunday.
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By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer