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No. 2 NC State exerts dominance in ACC opener

The NC State Wolfpack flexed their muscles once again during this 2021-22 season and blew out a Pitt Panthers team that was hoping to be more competitive after a pleasantly surprising good start.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament: NC State vs Boston College
Camille Hobby (with ball)
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Pitt Panthers entered their contest against the No. 2 NC State Wolfpack on Friday with an 8-2 record and wins over two top notch Big Ten teams from a year ago in Northwestern and Rutgers. Their only losses had come to No. 18 Texas A&M by just 11 and previously-receiving votes South Dakota in overtime.

Pitt went 5-14 (3-12 ACC) last year and was picked to finish 14th out of 15 teams in the ACC this year. Yet, it was off to a pretty solid start. However, the Panthers got blown out for the first time this season on Friday as the Wolfpack had 12 different players find the scoring column in an 89-54 victory at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.

The Wolfpack have only lost one game and it was to No. 1 South Carolina. All of their nine wins, except for an eight-point win over No. 10 Indiana, have been blow outs, including a particularly impressive 18-point win over No. 8 Maryland. NC State returned a ton of talent from its No. 1 seed campaign a year ago and brought in a ton of talent as well. It is flat-out loaded and showed off in its ACC opener by winning the first quarter 22-10.

The Wolfpack then edged Pitt 20-13 in the second and 24-10 in the third before a pretty even fourth.

Camille Hobby notched 15 points for the winners on 7-of-10 shooting from the field to go along with seven boards. Raina Perez also had 15 points and was 3-of-6 from downtown with two steals. Preseason ACC Player of the Year Elissa Cunane, who is adjusting to a lesser scoring role and averaging a career-low 12.3 points per game, posted nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. The Wolfpack’s leading scorer Diamond Johnson, who has energized the team after transferring from Rutgers, tossed in 10 points to go along with five boards and three helpers.

So no monster stat lines from NC State, but still 89 points. That’s because Jakia Brown-Turner and Kayla Jones both had eight points and Aziaha James and Jessica Timmons both had six. Additionally, the Wolfpack received four, three, three and two points from Jada Boyd, Kai Crutchfield, Genesis Bryant and Madison Hayes, respectively. Quite the balanced scoring effort.

Nine different NC State players made a three and the team shot 15-of-33 (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc.

Jayla Everett led the Panthers with 13 points in defeat and also had two steals and two blocks. Destiny Strother added 10 points and two blocks for Pitt. Everett is Pitt’s leading scorer on the season with 15.9 points per game.

NC State won the rebounding battle 51-37 and bench points 46-27.