RALEIGH, NC (NWN) — The top-ranked South Carolina gamecock certainly looked ready for its marquee season-opening matchup of the Final Four contenders. They got off to a quick start, played with restraint to defend the lead and never let fifth-placed North Carolina State look comfortable.
Gia Cook scored 17 points and South Carolina never looked back in their 66-57 win against NC State on Tuesday night, earning an impressive road victory that ended the Wolfpack’s long non-conference home winning streak. Gave.
Gamecock scored the first six and got a response whenever Wolfpack tried to make a move. Cook paced an aggressive team effort that shot 49%, while Precision Associated Press All-American Aaliyah Boston controlled the paint and closed out Alyssa Kunen—NC State’s star and Precision Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year helped to do.
“I thought we came well prepared,” said Gamecock coach Don Staley. “We didn’t know how many points we were going to be able to score because of what they were going to do (inside). So we just had to make sure we lock down.”
Boston finished with eight points, six rebounds, and five blocks for South Carolina, who blocked a total of nine shots.
Raina Perez and Zakia Brown-Turner were the only Wolfpack players to find any rhythm, each finishing with 18 points. Despite failing to hit a basket by the third quarter, Kunen finished with eight points with three rebounds in 4-for-11 shooting—a major problem for an offense as an internal presence surrounded by capable shooters. depends on it.
NC State shot 41% overall, never managing to consistently string together enough stops or solid scoring assets to catch South Carolina. Again, it also helped that there was no loud home crowd at the Reynolds Coliseum.
“That’s why they’re No. 1 in the country,” said Wolfpack coach Wes Moore. “They took us out of anything really defensively. We looked pretty lost in there for most of the night.”
The Wolfpack got within one point three separate times in the third quarter, the last coming 37–36 on Brown-Turner’s baseline drive. But South Carolina countered by scoring on five straight possessions and eight on seven to end the third quarter.
Gamecocks went on his finishing kick at the start of the fourth, as Cook shot down a transition 3-pointer near the South Carolina bench to push the margin to 51-41 with 7:57. Destiny Henderson (14 points) added a jumper with a shot clock winding, then Boston scored against Kunane, while the 55-41 lead was fouled with a 4:51 lead.
It also helped that South Carolina posted zero business in the fourth quarter. NC State got no more than eight, ending a 40-game home non-conference winning streak.
“We just wanted to come in with a great mindset and just trust each other and work hard for four quarters,” Henderson said.
South Carolina: All 11 members of Gamecocks’ Final Four team returned this year, and the team added another stellar recruiting class under Staley, who recently received a seven-year, $22.4 million contract, making him the game’s highest-ranking team. The payer makes a black head. Coach and one of the highest overall. It pinned hopes on this perennial power, playing its highest-ranked season-opening rival of all time — not to mention the team that beat Gamecock on their homecourt last year.
NC State: Moore’s program entered the season with one of its highest expectations in recent memory, with the return of the top eight scorer from the two-time ACC Tournament champion, earning the program the program’s first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. NC State received limited work from Kayla Jones, who came off the bench after recovering from knee surgery, and is without Jada Boyd due to an arm injury. Moore said the team is “still a work in progress” when it comes to blending in new transfers Diamond Johnson (Rutgers) and Madison Hayes (Mississippi State).
“It’s probably not a good night to play the No. 1 team in the country,” Moore said.
Johnson’s NC State term had a poor start. After averaging 17.6 points last year, he scored four points on 2-for-12 shooting and missed all six 3-point attempts.
Syracuse transfers Kamila Cardoso (6-7) and junior Leticia Amihere (6-4) made things difficult for the Wolfpack with Boston. Cardoso finished with two points and four rebounds, while Amire had nine points and five boards, helping South Carolina finish with a 35-30 rebounding lead.
South Carolina: Repatriate Friday night to face South Dakota.
NC State: Host Wofford on Friday night, part of a season-opening five-game homestand that includes power-conference matchups with Florida and Kansas State.
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