SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) — Jada Boyd scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half to help top-seeded North Carolina State overcome a slow start and coast to a 79-58 win over 16 seed NC A&T in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
N.C. State (21-2) was making its fourth straight tournament appearance and 26th overall, but earned a No. 1 seed for the first time.
The Aggies led by as many as six in the second quarter. But N.C. State used a big run to take a seven-point lead into halftime before Boyd scored the first six points of the second half to make it 50-37 with 7½ minutes left in the third.
The Wolfpack had pushed the lead to 15 later in the third before wrapping up the quarter with a 7-2 run, highlighted by a 3 from Boyd, to make it 64-44 entering the fourth.
Chanin Scott’s 3-pointer cut the lead to 17 with about six minutes remaining. N.C. State then scored nine straight points over the next two minutes to extend the lead to 77-51 and coach Wes Moore cleared his bench soon after that.
Elissa Cunane, N.C. State’s 6-foot-5 leading scorer, added 12 points despite fighting through near-constant double teams. Cunane was coming off an MVP performance in leading the Wolfpack to a second straight Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title by scoring a combined 70 points in three games.
NC A&T (14-3), which won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title, was making its fifth trip to the tournament and third in six seasons. The Aggies dropped to 0-5 in the tournament and 0-10 against N.C. State. They were led by Scott, who had 23 points and seven rebounds.
NC State led by three in the second quarter before the Aggies scored the next nine points to take a 35-29 lead with about five minutes left in the quarter. D’mya Tucker started that run with a 3-pointer and added a steal between four points by Scott.
The Wolfpack got going after that, ending the quarter on a 15-2 run to take a 44-37 lead into halftime. Kai Crutchfield made a 3-pointer, grabbed a steal and finished with a layup to cap NC State’s scoring in that stretch. She had 14 points.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Wolfpack outscored the Aggies 40-22 in the paint. … N.C. State scored 28 points off 13 NC A&T turnovers. … The N.C. State bench outscored the Aggies bench 33-15. … The Wolfpack also had the advantage in second-chance points 13-3.
N.C. State faces the winner of Sunday night’s game between No. 8 South Florida and No. 9 Washington State.