by Mike Potter
REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State looks to get back to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament for the first time in three seasons, and that quest starts officially today.
The survivor advances to Saturday’s championship game against the winner of this afternoon’s second contest between favored Auburn (13-17) and Maine (8-23).
Today’s game marks the debut of the Wolfpack’s imposing new 6-5 center Markeisha Gatling, the Athens Drive High alumna who played two seasons at Gulf Coast C.C. It is also the first game of the final season of sparkplug guard Marissa Kastanek, who was the only freshman for Coach Kellie Harper’s team three seasons ago.
This one is easy, as the Wolfpack dispatches the Terriers 85-45 to advance to the title game.
State leads 38-18 at halftime. The Wolfpack goes up 9-0 on a Myisha Goodwin-Coleman layup at 17:25, and 33-12 on a Goodwin-Coleman 3-pointer at 2:58.
The Wolfpack shoots 51.6 percent in the first half to the Terriers’ 29.0, wins the rebound battle 22-17 and commits nine turnovers to Wofford’s 12.
Kody Burke leads State with 19 points, followed by Kiana Evans with a career-high 16 off the bench on 7-for-7 shooting. Goodwin-Coleman adds 15 points and Breezy Williams 10, while Gatling adds 13 points to her seven rebounds.
Morgan Wrightson leads Wofford with 10 points while Daniella Motley chips in 10 rebounds with her six points.
State outshoots the visitors 54.7 percent to 28.4, outrebounds them 49-36 and commits 15 turnovers to Wofford’s 20.
They said it …
Harper: “We’re excited to get number one out of the way and under our belts. The kids did a good job of focusing on the task at hand. There were moments where we were a little bit sloppy, but there were moments where we looked really good and really sharp. As a coach you’re never really satisfied, and it’s just important that we get better every day. Hopefully we’ll be a better basketball team tomorrow night.”
Burke: “Practice is very competitive, even when we split guards to posts. You can just see a difference from last year in how disciplined we are. It’s really translating in the game and we’re working together really well. Keisha is definitely creating more activities for us.”
Goodwin-Coleman: “That’s what we want to do, get out and get running. I think our shooting percentages come from our shot selection. That’s paying off like you can see.”
Evans: “Coach has told me to step up to the challenge, and I’m a lot more confident this year. I’m finishing and doing what I’m supposed to do. Keisha is bigger and taller than me, adds more physicality to the game, and that lets me get out on the wing more.”
What does it all mean?
That the Wolfpack looks very good at taking care of business when it’s a heavy favorite.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Burke’s layup from Goodwin-Coleman to make it 35-14.
N.C. State: Won 1.
Wofford: Lost 2.
Consolation game, Saturday, 5 p.m.
Championship game, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.