by Mike Potter
REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State plays its only exhibition game of the women’s basketball season today against North Greenville University, a Division II Independent that provided the opposition in the same situation last year.
North Greenville is in its final season as an independent before joining Conference Carolinas, generally a collection of basketball schools including Mt. Olive and Barton and the like.
The Wolfpack, which went 20-14 and played in the ACC Tournament title game last season in Kellie Harper’s first turn as head coach, won 87-44 last season. A similar result is likely today.
State is getting some preseason Top 25 mentions as much of last season’s nucleus is back. Then-senior Nikitta Gartrell was the only loss from the top six scorers from last season’s team. Junior forward Bonae Holston was State’s top scorer and rebounder last season, and sophomore shooting guard Marissa Kastanek was last season’s ACC rookie of the year.
It turns out to be an easy afternoon for the Wolfpack, who roll to a 91-35 win.
Holston and Kastanek start today along with steady senior point guard Amber White and long, lean 6-3 forward Brittany Strachan. The Wolfpack has some new inside power in its other starter, 6-2 Kody Burke from Riverside, Calif.
The local recruit, 5-11 freshman forward Breezy Williams from Durham’s Northern High, will make her debut in Wolfpack Red.
In a surprise to nobody, it’s not much of a contest from the outset. Holston scores four of the first eight points as the Wolfpack leads 8-0, using a 16-0 run later in the period to fly out to a 44-12 advantage at the break.
State’s largest lead is 91-34 on a Burke layup with 2:32 to go.
Holston finishes with 23 points, followed by Burke with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Kastanek with 11 points. Redshirt freshman Lakeesa Daniel had 12 rebounds to go along with her eight points.
Krisceda Cotton and Brooks Walz paced the Crusaders with six points each.
State shot 63.2 percent to NGU’s 46.2 and won the rebound battle 72-24. Each team committed 24 turnovers.
They said it …
Harper: “I think that’s a good start for us. The kids were able to get a good basketball game under their belts, to put the uniform on, play in front of the crowd. I thought we did some good things. We obviously have a lot of things we need to work on, but that’s what you expect, and that’s what these exhibition games do for you. They allow you to utilize the game film to improve, and film doesn’t lie. … Lakeesa Daniel played probably above what she’s been playing consistently. She’s had a really good week and our team has had a really good week of practice. She’s doing a good job absorbing the information we give her, and did a nice job tonight trying to do what we want her to do.”
Holston: “I just wanted to go out and be aggressive and run the floor, and my teammates found me. I was on the other end to finish most of the time. … We just have to work on the little things and make sure we’re boxing out on every shot, crashing on every shot when we’re on offense. Obviously we were bigger and stronger than this team, but most of the time our opponents are going to be bigger than us so we’re going to have to be able to execute on offense.”
Kastanek: “I think the freshmen are doing so well! They came in and a lot of stuff was new for them as far as the weight room, the eating habits, the college life, the classes, and everything hit them hard. But with the help of the upperclassmen and the coaches and the freshmen themselves, they’ve come together and been doing really, really well this year. I think (we sophomores) can help them with the more recent stuff, like some things have changed since Bo has been a freshman or since Amber has been a freshman. And so I think for the more recent stuff the sophomores can help out.”
Burke: “I was very surprised myself (with the double-double.) But I kind of got into the flow. I’m starting to get the hang of it a little bit.”
What does it all mean?
That the Wolfpack is looking solid and should be deeper than last season.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Holston’s three-point play from Kastanek with nine seconds left in the first half.
NCSU vs. College of Charleston, Friday, noon
NGU at Limestone, Nov. 16, 5:30 p.m.