RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Kiara Leslie had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and North Carolina State pulled away to beat Kentucky 72-57 on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman Elissa Cunane added 13 points and 15 rebounds, DD Rogers had 11 points and 11 boards, and the third-seeded Wolfpack (28-5) dominated the glass while earning their second straight trip to the Sweet 16.
N.C. State — which had a 50-31 rebounding advantage — will play second-seeded Iowa (28-6) on Saturday in the semifinals of the Greensboro Region.
Freshman Rhyne Howard scored 21 points and Maci Morris had 18 for the sixth-seeded Wildcats (25-8). They were 3 of 16 in the fourth quarter — all three field goals belonged to Morris — while the Wolfpack pulled away.
N.C. State pushed its lead into double figures by scoring the first seven points of the fourth and clamped down on Kentucky the rest of the way, with Kai Crutchfield’s 3-pointer putting the Wolfpack up by 14 with 2½ minutes to play.
Crutchfield finished with 11 points for the Wolfpack, who reached the 28-win mark for the first time since 1980 and improved to 16-2 in NCAA Tournament games in Raleigh.
Kentucky: The Wildcats are tough to beat when they’re hitting shots and forcing turnovers with a press that averages 21.4 takeaways. They’re 18-0 when they outshoot their opponents. But shooting 32 percent — their worst night in nearly two months — simply won’t get it done. And they only scored 13 points off N.C. State’s 16 turnovers.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack’s overachieving run will continue for at least a few more days. N.C. State, which for weeks has been down four players with season-ending injuries, used just six players when the outcome was in doubt against a Kentucky team that thrives on its up-tempo, high-pressure style. All six scored.
N.C. State: Faces second-seeded Iowa in the Greensboro Regional semifinals on Saturday.