The NC State Wolfpack earned their fourth win in five games, with a dominating 79-45 victory over the Clemson Tigers in front of 1,957 loyal supporters at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday.
Myisha Goodwin-Coleman (12 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists) led NC State’s parade of five players who finished with double figure scoring totals which included Breezy Williams (12 points , 3 rebounds, 2 assists), Krystal Barrett (11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist), Len’Nique Brown (11 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists), and Lakeesa Daniel (10 points, 8 rebounds).
The Wolfpack’s 40 percent shooting performance highlighted scoring that was generated from all areas of the floor, particularly off turnovers (25 points), in transition (12 points) and in the paint (36 points).
“I’m really proud of our team,” NC State head coach Kellie Harper said.
“We did what we needed to do to get a win.”
Senior guard Marissa Kastanek (6 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists) started the game’s scoring, draining a long three-pointer from the right wing,and the Wolfpack proceeded to control the pace of play and led 18-7 after the first seven minutes of play.
“Coach had us pushing the ball up, just to try and get us in a groove, and just to get the offense runnin’,” Brown said.
The Tigers, led by Nikki Dixon (15 points, 5 rebounds) and Quinyotta Pettaway (10 points, 9 rebounds), began to fight back and narrowed NC State’s lead to as few as four points after putting together a 10-3 run.
However, Daniel and Brown helped to lead a charge to extend the lead to 13 points by halftime.
“I think we were rushing it a little bit, maybe expecting a foul, for the defense to be more physical in those situations and really, we just rushed it,” Harper said of the team’s scoring drought during the middle of the first half.
“We did a much better job during the second half.”
The Wolfpack went to a press and trap during the second half in order to maintain the tempo of the game and didn’t allow the Tigers to gain any momentum to their offensive game.
“The one thing that Clemson wants you to do is to lull you to sleep, and I thought if we maintained our focus we would finish strong,” Harper said.
“To be honest with you, we put the press on because I got tired of them walking the ball up the floor. I didn’t think that was good for us. Honestly, it kind of threw us off a little bit, and we wanted to dictate the tempo a little bit more, make them work more on the offensive end, so we put the press on.”
The strategy worked as Clemson turned the ball over 12 times and provided NC State the opportunity to continue building its lead which swelled to a game-high 39 points with 2:35 remaining in the game.
With only seven players dressed, Clemson’s endurance waned and allowed the Wolfpack the opportunity to freely pass the ball around the perimeter and shoot at-will.
Goodwin-Coleman launched three bombs from beyond the arc while Brown hit two three-pointers of her own during the second half of play.
“I felt like we shared the ball well,” Harper said.
It has been a very productive three weeks since NC State suffered a demoralizing loss to the then No. 22 Florida State Seminoles.
Harper has beeen very pleased with her team’s progress since then, particularly with the emphatic win over Clemson.
“I thought that this was a very good team win,” Harper said.
“I think earlier in the season, our schedule was tough. I also think during that stretch we lost some confidence. We’re playing with a lot more confidence now.”
Harper also accounted the team’s recent success to a change in her players’ maturation as the season has progressed.
“We haven’t really changed much schematically, but our players appear to understand it better – understand what they need to do to be successful, which they weren’t doing earlier,” said Harper.
“Players are playing with more maturity.”
Brown echoed her coach’s sentiment and reinforced what the team’s focus and priority will be to continue its current success as the latter part of the season and tournament time arrives.
“I think (we’re) trying to play together more, trying to look for each other, having each other’s back when one falls down.”