This is the kind of game that ends up being great to start a NCAA Tournament. While the first 12 minutes were less than perfect, State ended up pulling out a 79-58 win against #16 seed NC A&T.
Slow Start By Pack
With 4:01 remaining in the 2nd quarter, State found themselves down by 6. But even that was a little deceptive. NC A&T has a stellar defense (their most points against this year was 66), but their offense was on another level early. At one point, NC A&T were hitting 60% from three-point land and 64% overall (they still ended the game at 43%, which is above their average 40%). Add that to a tight, aggressive defense, that was even bear-hugging Cunane inside, and the Aggies were off to a hot start.
Underrated Impact of Crutchfield
When in doubt, Crutchfield came up huge on both ends of the floor. To keep pace with NC A&T early, she was hitting three’s (ending the game going 4-5 from downtown). On the other side, she shutdown Aggie’s top player Deja Winters. In her last four games, Winters was averaging nearly 20 per. Today, Crutchfield held her to TWO points on 0-9 shooting from the field.
Bench Players were Hot
Outside of Brown-Turner’s terrific day (Double-Double, 10 points and 10 rebounds), Boyd was the best State player on the court. Boyd finished with 18 points, 5 boards, and 2 steals. Freshman Bryant came in for 9 points and Hobby for 4 points of her own.
Big Second Half without Cunane and Jones
State’s biggest run was 14 minutes in length and a 37-7 point swing. Crazy part? It was heavily done without Cunane or Jones on the floor. Jones left early with an injury sustained on a defensive play. Cunane got her 12 points and 5 boards and then was seemingly saved as the team was rolling. In total, Jones and Cunane played a combined 36 minutes. In all, 13 different Wolfpack players got playing time and still pulled out a 21-point victory.
State will now await to see whether they face #8 South Florida (AAC Champion) or #9 Washington St on Tuesday.